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.