Age no limit: Tennis

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Written byClaire Hunte

Fitness is one of those subjects that is frankly best told by the people who love it the most. In this series, we hear from those who love a specific activity and tell you why and how they do it. We hope it may be just the thing to spark you to give it a whirl.

“Tennis is just hitting the ball over the net…” Nicola Chase Photo: Trevor Patchett

Nicola Chase is a writer and home renovator based in Herefordshire and a tennis player passionate about the game. She believes that age certainly has no limit, but it can become mighty addictive, “chasing after that stupid yellow ball!”

1. How and when did your passion for tennis begin?

I remember watching Wimbledon growing up, but when I moved to Hong Kong in the late 1990s, the estate I lived on had a tennis court, so that’s when I took my first tentative steps into the game. However, it was only around 2010 when I decided to give it another go. By then I was living in New York, and I started taking group lessons and having occasional private coaching. After that, the passion became an addiction (in the best possible way!) and I started to take my racquet with me whenever I’d go on holiday, in the hope of getting a game or having a lesson somewhere. When moving back to this country a few years ago, finding a good tennis club nearby was essential for where I chose to live!

Unfortunately, tennis has the reputation of being a rich person’s sport. But it absolutely, definitely need not be.

2. How easy is it to learn to play, to become acquainted with the rules, etiquette and game playing?

Tennis is just hitting a ball over the net to within a given area on the other side. Simple! Of course, it becomes more complex the more you get into the game. However, that basic rule remains the same for everyone, and it’s always good to remember that lest you get bogged down with forehands or backhands or spin or slice or anything else that makes the game so addictive. And so fun.

3. How expensive a sport is it to participate in – given the need for equipment and joining a club?

Unfortunately, tennis has the reputation of being a rich person’s sport. But it absolutely, definitely need not be. Yes, you need a racquet but you can start with a used one from eBay. Balls are between 1 and 2 pounds each. And although we’d love to have you join Ludlow Castle Tennis Club (adult membership £150.00 per year), maybe first try a few sessions at one of the (sadly few) public courts in the area.

I sometimes practice my serves at Kingsland public courts, which are free. There are some other pay-per-hour courts in our region too. So, don’t let the worry of money prevent you from taking up our wonderful sport.

4. Share with us what it’s like to be a member of the Tennis club and what a new member would expect? How easy is it to practice with someone at your skill level and do you have to play doubles?!

We are all-round inclusive, and would definitely try our best to make you feel welcome. There are members of all ages and playing levels, plus group and individual coaching for different standards too. Most of our games are doubles-based but we also have players like me who love a game of singles. We have daytime and evening social playing groups of differing levels too. Personally, I love Thursday evening Ladies’ Nights. We play throughout the year (yes, in hats and gloves in winter!) and it’s hugely fun. Post-COVID, we are also increasing our social calendar in the Clubhouse too with different daytime and evening events. Playing in the shadow of the castle walls is magical, and our courts are also a huge advantage too as we have artificial grass (green) and artificial clay (red) courts which are much nicer to play on than the tarmac or hard courts you find at many other clubs. Get in touch with us and we’ll give you a no-obligation guided tour!

5. Finally, what do you say to those who ask “am I too old to start playing?”

Rubbish! I regularly lose to players in their 80s, and although they have been playing for a number of years, age is certainly not a factor, especially in doubles. Starting tennis at any age does come with a warning though: chasing after that stupid yellow ball has a tendency to take over your life!

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