Guest Post by Anna MacDiarmid, Editorial Intern for Team Sport
The first major event on the tennis calendar, the Australian Open, is well underway. And the question on every tennis fan’s lips is: who will raise the trophy this year? British number one Andy Murray has already won one trophy this year, defending his title at the Brisbane International. 2012 was a fantastic year for British tennis, along with most British sport, with Murray winning an Olympic Gold Medal and the US Open, ending the UK’s long wait for a Grand Slam Champion. Can he top 2012 with a Wimbledon win? We shall see. While Murray is the only British male tennis player in the world’s top 100, things are looking up for female tennis, with young players Laura Robson and Heather Watson entering the top 50 this year. My question is: why must we tennis fans rest all our hopes on so few contenders?
Britain is the home of tennis, so why is it we produce so few Murray-like players? Most people love to sit down to a good Wimbledon match with a Pimms in one hand and some strawberries and cream in the other, so why do we not play tennis with such devotion? This is set to change; with such a good year for British tennis last year, as well as the lasting Olympic Legacy British sport is keen to promote, things are starting to look up. Tennis does have a reputation for being an expensive sport, and I can understand this as a tennis player myself. It is rare to find a court you can play on without paying £5 a game and often you have to pay an extortionate fee to join a club. However, things are set to change, with more free courts popping up around the country as well as taster sessions allowing people to try out the sport.
One excellent organisation promoting just this is Tennis For Free (www.tennisforfree.com). TFF works with schools, tennis clubs and local authorities throughout the UK to create more opportunities for tennis communities to utilise public park court facilities for free. One of their main projects is to provide free equipment and a 2 year coaching programme delivered by qualified coaches to all ages and standards for 50 weeks of the year, for free. Their website is also an excellent resource for finding courts you can play on around the country (…for free). Just enter your postcode and browse the results for your most convenient court.
January is the month to take up a new sport and get fit, so I say take up tennis, let’s start producing our own Federers, Djokovics and Nadals. This game really is fantastic for all areas of fitness, not only does it improve your aerobic fitness, but also builds muscle and improves balance as well as being great fun! The average player will cover between 3 and 5 miles during a competitive match and burn up to 600 calories per hour. Also tennis players repeat the same movements over and over which helps to tone the body. Don’t wait for the summer, pick up your racquet and get on court.
Editorial Intern for Team Sport at Bloomsbury, Anna is a keen tennis player and has been playing on and off for about eight years; she secretly hopes to hit the big time. While admitting racquet sports are probably the only kind of exercise she really enjoys, she does also like swimming, and desperately wants to try scuba diving in a tropical underwater world one day.
The legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics some have hoped aloud is that more of us, still all geed up and whooping, will take part in sport. When I say ‘us’ imagine instead the unspoken target: some pre-teen lazybones hunched over her smartphone. Suddenly she’s shot-putting her pillowcase of junk food out the window and joining squadrons of her kind in the streets, hurdling bins, moonwalking like dressage horses, going all Beth Tweddle on lamp-posts. Healthiness being the age’s religion, this is seen as a good thing. Sport is good for you. It makes you a fitter biomechanical machine, and a fitter body is happier, lives longer and, though I have gone too far already, contributes more to society. Here I am at a sports publisher, and such a groundswell of interest in sport should have me licking my chops – moo-ha-ha! Allow me instead to pooh-pooh.
But why? Why emit a sales-sapping grump of a blog? Am I so cynical, so sour of puss, so easily prepared to kill joy and rain on the parade of something community-spirited and optimistic, something right-headed and good. I would hope so, yes.
And now I hold up exhibit A, my left ring finger in a splint. This is what sport has done to me. A detached tendon suffered while keeping goal in five-a-side football. Do not, I suggest, try to block a cannonball using your ring finger like a pool cue, tip first. The digit has contracted the deformity known as mallet finger and is now permanently bent at the top joint. It may never fully heal, and in the meanwhile I am forced to wear my plastic finger hat of shame – for weeks.
My question is this: In the light of such a catastrophe, how can anyone of passing sanity suggest that sport is good for you?
Like most people involved in such things I have an atlas of injury remnants across my body: from bone bruises and dicky joints to multiply shucked toenails. We are not alone. Sport leads to a continuous barrage of impacts, crunches, wrenches and body damage. They don’t call them tennis elbows nor swimmer’s shoulders for nothing. One of the Olympic equestrian team was discussing how commonly they break fingers after being thrown. A recent crash in the Tour de France was called the Massacre at Metz for the mangled piles of bodies and bikes it left behind, all their skimpy little bike vests in tatters, with gravel-rash oozing horribly through the holes. None of this is strictly speaking good for you, is it. And I suspect it is only the very luckiest of sportspersons who will not wear the brunt of some injury or other to the grave.
Sport is bad for you. So should we wish it upon pubescent slobs and those less disposed towards physical movement? I don’t know. The only reason I can imagine, and probably the real impetus behind our participation anyway, is – no not self-esteem, goal-orientation, team-cooperative-learning-enhancement or some other policy-speak codswallop – fun. Sport is fun. Play it if you want. Unfortunately I will continue to.
We here at team sport are completely hooked on this year’s Wimbledon and what a tournament it’s been so far!
Undeterred by having no luck getting tickets by public ballot, I decided to head down after work one day and for a few pounds you gain entry to the grounds and to the outside courts. Nothing beats seeing the speed of those serves first-hand, and on most courts you are right next to the action! After play finished around 9 o’clock, we moved over to Henman Hill/Murray Mount to soak up the atmosphere by watching the rest of the Federer/Benneteau match on the big screen. All in all a great way to experience Wimbledon!
Unexpected defeats of the French Open champs Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova completely opened up the championships and now, as all eyes are turned towards tomorrow’s semi-final matches, we are all asking ourselves – can Murray do it?
Bunny Austin in 1938 was the last British player to reach the men’s singles final at the All England Club, but that could all end tomorrow…
Tsonga and Murray have met twice on grass; the first time in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2010 which went to Murray in four sets and last year in the final at Queen’s club, which Murray took in three sets. Overall, from their six meetings, Murray has won five.
Both players are bound to be feeling the pressure as their nation’s hopes are placed upon them, and as neither player has made it to the Wimbledon final to date, you can guarantee it is going to be a spectacular match.
Of course, we heartily wish both players luck – especially as the winner will face either Federer or Djokovic in the final on Sunday!
If you are thinking about picking up a racket yourself and giving tennis a go, visit http://www.lta.org.uk/Search/Find-A-Tennis-Court to find a court or club near you, or for some top tips and ideas to keep you focused during tennis matches, check out 303 Tips for Successful Tennis: Your Tennis Coach on Court by Angela Buxton and Nenad Simic.
You’d have to have been living under a stone not to be aware of the incredible Summer of Sport almost upon us. So, in order to whet your appetite, we’ve hand-picked a dozen tricky questions that will bring out your competitive instinct. Test your knowledge on some of the events sure to hog the back pages over the next few months. Enjoy!
Some nice easy ones to begin with:
Below are three well-known England cricketers who’ve got themselves into a right old muddle running between the wickets. Hopefully you’ll be able to help them out before the first Test Series of the summer gets underway this week:
1) WAS UNDER STARS
2) SPORTY MANE AN
3) NEW MANAGERS
The curtains have just come down on yet another highly entertaining domestic football season, yet with Chelsea’s upcoming Champions League Final appearance on the horizon, we thought we’d test both your British and European club-team knowledge of the beautiful game:
4) Who, in 1980, achieved what Sunderland did in 1979 and Villa did in 1981?
5) Which current Premier League manager became the first British player to lift the Champions League trophy?
Away from the domestic football scene, of course, looms Euro 2012. So, never one to shirk an easy link, here’s a question about it:
6) Spain was the last country to win the tournament in 2008, but which country, in 1960, was the first?
Now to one of Britain’s most feted competitions which, unfortunately, is likely to sit in the shade whilst the world watches London 2012. That’s not to say the quality of tennis should be any less enthralling though, so, to get you in the mood, here are a couple of questions that focus on great Wimbledon moments:
7) Pete Sampras and Martina Navratilova hold the record for the most Wimbledon Singles’ titles won. If you multiply their titles together, what number do you get?
8) This year marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but which Brit was the last player to be crowned Wimbledon Singles’ champion when the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee?
And finally to London 2012, the cherry on top of the icing on the cake of a phenomenal summer of sport:
9) If Marathon is worth 13 points and Decathlon is worth 15 points, how many points would High Jump be worth?
10) In 1992, Britain’s Linford Christie won gold in the 100m, but what was his time?
a) 9.97 b) 9.94 c) 9.96 d) 9.99
11) Which three Olympic Games were cancelled due to World War I and World War II?
All square after eleven questions? Rather than settle a dead heat, this final question is designed to sort out the medal positions once and for all – let the first person to call out the answer be crowned Bloomsbury Sports Quiz Champion!
On your marks … set … go!
12) This sport might be a popular pastime with sportsmen and women across Britain when rain stops play. However, which number comes next in the sequence:
20 1 18 4 13 ?
NB: Remember to check back here in a week’s time for the answers.
Contributed by James Rennoldson, Sports Quizmaster Extraordinaire