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It's not too late to take up tennis!


The age of the top tennis players is gradually creeping up again. When the sport was in its early days, Arthur Gore was 41 when he won the 1909 title and Charlotte Sterry was 37 when she won the ladies’ title the year before. Some decades ago there was a spell of young teenagers taking the top places but now more mature players are beginning to take control again.

While at our age we are clearly not going to be Wimbledon champions,  for many the sport still has enormous appeal and today more and more seniors are taking up the sport.

Some of us of course used to play it at school (remember those wooden rackets?!) but increasingly people over 60 and 70 are realizing that playing tennis can be a great new way to keep fit and also to make lots of new friends.

There are two really good things about tennis as a senior…the first is that there are courts and clubs all over the country meaning we don’t have to travel far to get a game. But secondly, it is possibly to play tennis at all sorts of levels including very slow, gentle games for people with limited movement or energy levels.

Most clubs welcome any age group and many run special over 60s days and even training events. Quite a few also run over 60s leagues, where you can join in games against other clubs.

Don’t be put off by never having played before; today many clubs and groups across the UK are going out of their way to try and welcome senior players.  Even residential groups are joining in, for instant Pickering and Ferens Homes Association in Yorkshire have started running Monday morning tennis sessions for new players over 60.

Claire Champlin, the sports development officer at Hull City Council which has overseen the project, says the tennis sessions have been well received.

She said: “The group we hold on a Monday morning involves touch tennis with a low-compression ball, which is ideal for people over 60.

The classes have been well received and we are now looking to set up more sessions across the city so more over-60s can get involved in tennis.

Many clubs such as Bicester Tennis Club in Oxfordshire run special Veteran tennis groups…Bicester has over 25 members up to the age of 85 who play mainly fun doubles on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Most clubs around the country also offer very reduced membership rates for seniors.

One reason why tennis is good for us at our age is not only does it cover a whole range of arm, leg and body movements for overall fitness, but there is also a strong mental aspect to the game, including timing and fast thinking plus quite a lot of strategy; very good to keep our cognitive abilities in tip top shape.

Tennis coaches today are experienced with older players, and one thing they will insist on is a good warm up. This is really important – getting muscles ready for exercise can take a little longer as we age. A five minute walk or jog will lift your heart rate and also your body temperature and get blood flowing to your muscles so injury becomes less likely.

Once you have warmed up, your coach or colleagues may also suggest some good stretching. Connective tissues can lose elasticity with age, so again some stretching is a good way to prepare for play.

But after that, you are ready to go. Even just hitting a few balls can be such fun.
The Lawn Tennis Association has a great feature on its website to help you locate your nearest clubs.

Then simply get in contact; you won’t be the only senior today enquiring about taking up the sport.

And if you find you have a natural talent, then there is a Seniors' Tennis GB which organises competitions at various levels for people up to the age of 85 for men and 80 for women.

Finally if you have any general queries, then you can email the address below for help: vw@seniorstennisgb.org

 


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