Inspired by Wimbledon? Find out where to play tennis locally
PUBLISHED: 14:04 03 July 2018
It’s that time of year again.
The lawns have been rolled and mown and the strawberries picked for the start of this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships, which got under way yesterday at SW19.
And while many of us will only ever be able to swing a racket like Roger Federer or Serena Williams in our dreams, that shouldn’t blind us to the many benefits of tennis, a game that can be enjoyed by all ages, is good for physical and mental health and offers the chance to socialise and make new friends.
In fact, a study in 2016 found playing racket sports, such as tennis and badminton, reduces the risk of death at any given age by almost 50%. The research was the first large-scale population study to look at whether participation in sport helped people live longer and involved examining responses from 80,306 adults aged 30 and over in England and Scotland who were quizzed on their health and exercise habits over a 14-year period.
The research team found racket sports reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 56% - better than swimming and aerobics.
Tennis is thought to be so good for cardiovascular fitness as it gives a whole body workout. During a match you sprint short distances and push your reflexes to the limit to get that little yellow ball back over the net. This increases your heart rate, giving you a great cardio workout. According to Bupa, it also helps keep body fat down and strengthens bones.
Tennis also aids muscle strength and is good for mental focus and wellbeing.
This is because playing tennis involves using many different muscle groups at the same time, challenging arms, legs and upper body muscles to work together. You also have to think on your feet and react quickly, meaning tennis needs good hand-eye coordination, balance and flexibility too.
It’s also a game of the mind as well as the body. You need to be alert and focussed, thinking strategically and tactically to outwit your opponent.
It’s a great way to meet people and feel socially connected too. You can play a match with family or friends or meet new people by joining a local tennis club. Playing tennis helps you de-stress as well.
Where to play
There are plenty of opportunities to learn and play locally. Many villages and towns have public courts you can use, often for free and sometimes for a small charge, while local clubs offer the opportunity to get professional coaching and meet others.
Norfolk LTA, which is responsible for promoting tennis in the county, says adults who are new to the game can take a six-week Tennis Xpress course, where they will learn new skills and be shown how to serve, rally, and score. By the end you should be able to enjoy playing a match. Go to www.clubspark.lta.org.uk to find a course near you. Clubs offering the course include Diss, Acle and, in Suffolk, Kesgrave.
There are also tennis courses for children across the region and other initiatives to get people playing. These include Tennis Tuesdays for women, which each week focus on a different area of the game to improve ability with a mixture of skills training from professional coaches and match play with other women at your level. Tennis Tuesdays take place at various locations, including Eaton Park, Norwich, and Saxmundham Tennis Club.
There are also numerous opportunities to try out tennis for free at clubs across East Anglia during July as part of Great British Tennis Weekend. Those taking part include Bedfield and Monk Soham Tennis Club and Kesgrave Tennis Club (July 7); Bramford Tennis Club, East Bergholt Tennis Club and Christchurch Park (July 21); Grundisburgh Tennis Club (July 22) and in Norfolk the Burnhams Tennis Club (July 14); Taverham Tennis Club (July 21) and Reepham Tennis Club (July 22).
For more details about all these initiatives go to www.clubspark.lta.org.uk. For more about Suffolk LTA go to www3.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/suffolk and for Norfolk http://norfolktennis.org. In Essex it’s www3.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/essex/.