Get Inspired: TENNIS

The Great British Tennis Weekend

  • Venue: various all over the UK
  • Date: 19 & 20 July 2014
  • To find out more: https://clubhouse.lta.org.uk/opendays

Get involved in Tennis 

Tennis is a game full of household names, from the Williams sisters to Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

Around since the early 19th Century in its current form, tennis holds a special place in the hearts of many Brits.

With Andy Murray becoming the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon for 77 years, now is the perfect time to get involved with tennis.

Get involved

Nearly a million people play tennis once a month in the UK in more than 23,000 tennis courts.

If you want to add to this figure, there are more than 500 venues across the country where you can play tennis for free  at any time.

Tennis clubs offer some access to tennis rackets and tennis balls for beginners, but a good quality second-hand racket can be picked up for as little as £20.

All else you will need to get started is some comfortable sports clothes and trainers.

Judy Murray remembers how simple games played at home helped her sons, Andy and Jamie, to develop their skills and become the tennis stars they are today.

If you become a member of your local tennis club, you will have easy access to tennis courts, training schemes and competitions. Membership fees often entitle people to reduced hire rates for tennis courts.

For people of all ages and abilities in the United Kingdom, the Lawn Tennis Association's Allplay scheme  is the best way to find places to play, people to play against and coaches to train you in your area.

The LTA even runs tennis-based fitness sessions called cardio tennis  for people wanting a more casual experience, while mini tennis  is an alternative route into the sport.

To find your local club, visit the Lawn Tennis Association,   Tennis Scotland,   Ulster Tennis  and Tennis Wales  websites.

Disabled people can take part in any tennis activity, with the sport adapted according to ability.

Wheelchair tennis integrates very easily with the non-disabled game since it can be played on any regular tennis court, with no modifications to rackets or balls.

The Tennis Foundation  is running subsidised camps nationwide throughout 2013 so you can try wheelchair, learning disability, deaf or visually impaired tennis.

More on the LTA website 

Why is it good for you?

The stop-start bursts of speed over a prolonged period of time required when you play tennis are excellent for improving aerobic fitness, burning fat and strengthening the heart.

An hour's play is likely to see 544 calories spent; this is a higher number than spending the same time doing aerobics, inline skating, or cycling.

A Harvard University study also found that people who play tennis for three hours per week cut their risk of death in half from any cause compared to people who remain stationary.

Doubles games are an excellent way to develop communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people. Tennis clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond simply playing the sport.

As tennis is a low-impact sport which is not dependent on strength, people of all ages can play.

History

While the modern game of tennis originated in late 19th-Century England, most historians believe the sport developed from a game played in 12th-Century France, where players struck the ball with the palm of their hand.

Did you know?

The 88-year Olympic reign of Titanic survivor Dick Williams as mixed doubles champion ended at London 2012, with the event staged for the first time since Williams won gold with Hazel Wightman in 1924. Rescued from the icy Atlantic waters in 1912, American Williams insisted on walking every two hours to get the blood circulating in his frozen legs after a doctor advised amputation.

Between 1859 and 1865, the modern game was developed in Birmingham by Harry Gem and Augurio Perera. The duo combined elements of rackets and the Basque ball game pelota, and helped formed the world's first tennis club in 1872.

Five years later, the first organised tennis tournament was played at Wimbledon.

Some may begrudge tennis its slot in the Olympics, but it was held in the original modern Games in 1896 before political in-fighting led to the event being absent from 1928 until 1988.

In year of its return, Steffi Graf added the women's singles title to the four majors she claimed in the same year in what became known as her "Golden Slam".

As 1996 men's singles gold medallist Andre Agassi said: "The Olympics is the biggest thing you can do in all sports. To win a gold medal is what it's all about.

"I'll keep this over all of them. This is the greatest accomplishment I've ever had in sport."

More on the IOC website 

Are you inspired to try Tennis? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the game by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

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Where Next?

Find a Tennis event, taster session or club near you.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.

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