Tennis Lessons

By Shailen Lakhani - Last update


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Hold court with your friends by taking a summer course in the art of tennis.

Tennis has its origins in a much older game, Jeu de Palme (handball), which originated in 12th century France. The court had side and end walls and was shaped like an hourglass. As the game developed, the players started protecting their hands with gloves and eventually began to use short rackets.

British army major, Major Walter Wingfield, is credited with inventing and publicising the modern game. He originally called it Sphairistike but it was pointed out that no-one would ever remember the name. “Anyone for Sphairistike ” just didn’t catch on and the game was re-christened lawn tennis.

One of the most important skills you will learn in a tennis class is the stroke. There are three main stages of this – the preparation, the hit, and the follow-through. Often the downfall of the co-ordinationally challenged, you will learn that it is possible to throw up the ball without smacking yourself in the eye. This can be achieved through practice exercises, such as throwing a ball back and forth with a partner, catching it both in the air and on the bounce.

As you improve your game, you will learn to differentiate between strokes and know which to use against a particular tactic. For example, the overhead smash can be the most powerful tennis stroke, but it needs confidence and concentration for successful execution.

If you want to be a good tennis player, you will need to have a proper stance. This involves springing back into a state of readiness after hitting the ball. Your footwork is important – the ready position should see you facing the net with your feet shoulder-width apart. Frank Sinatra would be glad to hear that stance also includes the way you hold your bat and the way you bend your knees.

Tennis has never been Ireland’s strong suit. We have never had a James O’ Shaughnessy or a Siobhan Murphy stroking their way to victory at a Grand Slam but it doesn’t mean we never could. Your first step to Wimbledon is to learn the basics and get on court. Even if you don’t come up to scratch, you could always consider commentating. Check out some of the gems below to see what the competition is like.

“The Gullikson twins here. An interesting pair, both from Wisconsin. ” – Dan Maskell

“Strawberries, cream and champers flowed like hot cakes. ” – Radio 2

“She comes from a tennis playing family. Her father’s a dentist. ” – BBC 2

“These ball boys are marvellous. You don’t even notice them. There’s a left handed one over there. I noticed him earlier. ” – Max Robertson


Shailen Lakhani

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