If you watched any of the ExxonMobil Open Tennis in Doha this year you were no doubt impressed by the athleticism and skill of the likes of David Ferrer and Gael Monfils. But tennis isn’t just for pros. It’s one of the most popular and widely-played sports in the world, for lots of reasons.
Tennis is easy to take up – all you need to get started is a court, racquet and balls. Once you’ve got the gear (available at most of Doha’s malls and sports stores), tennis can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet. They say that a good age to start playing tennis is five – kids who are any younger often lack the attention span to learn the technique needed to hit the ball properly. Not that it’s too complicated – basic forehand and backhand stroke technique can be taught in about 10 lessons. The best way to start is to find a court close to you and then enquire about qualified coaches at that venue.
By definition, tennis is a sport that must be played against at least one other person (although if you’re really keen, you can always hit the ball against a wall. At least you won’t have anyone challenging your points!). Once you’ve had a few lessons with a coach, find some people of similar ability and get a tennis group together. You don’t have to play competitively, just hit the ball as much and as often as you can – you might be impressed by how quickly you’ll progress.
Now that you’ve got the playing basics, let’s talk outfits. Wrist bands, polo shirts, neon – certainly, this is a sport for the fashion-conscious (Vogue Editor Anna Wintour follows tennis passionately. Enough said.)
Tennis is great for players of any age, and once you’ve learnt the basics it’s a game you can play for life. It’s also fantastic for your fitness and an effective way to lose weight, since it’s a total body workout. In fact in 2010 the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study which showed that singles tennis is one of the top five best activities for burning energy. And the health benefits don’t just end at your love handles – that same study also showed that playing moderate-intensity tennis regularly can lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and improve lung function.