Any game that begins with the players at love all must be good for you and everyone else. Hitting off regularly in a round of singles or doubles will stretch your limbs, your mind, and may even give you insights into how you relate to others and yourself.
As all great tennis players know, tennis is ultimately a game of the mind where every game is about responding to ups and downs and not just of the ball.
Tennis is unique in that a game can be won in four straight shots or lost just as quickly. It is a game where the tide can turn in an instant and even the most experienced player has to shift from watching themselves play at their brilliant best to making an error that horrifies them. Winning depends on being able to ride out the highs and the lows and concentrate on the next shot. Enjoying the game depends on being gentle with yourself.
Watching how you feel when you are losing in a game of tennis is a true eye-opener. Seeing how you deal with serving a double fault (or perhaps, two) or hitting a string of balls into the net can be the beginning of an intriguing journey of discovery, where you learn to focus on the future and let go of the past or as leading American tennis coach Tom Veneziano puts it, where you learn to “focus on the next shot and not the last mistake”.
If you could ask your body how it feels after an hour of tennis, it would probably say fantastic. Tennis is an excellent work-out which burns fat, improves cardiovascular fitness, and increases energy levels.
Of the racquet sports, it is does not rate the highest on improving cardiovascular health, as the game involves regular starting and stopping where the body returns to a state of rest. However, this factor increases anaerobic fitness, as the rest helps the muscles to use oxygen effectively.
Stopping and starting also strengthens leg, abdominal and back muscles, and gives the brain a thorough work-out, as thinking quickly is the key to outsmarting your opponent by playing an unpredictable and, hopefully, unreturnable shot.
Avoiding injury is an important part of tennis and warming up well is essential. A combination of stretch exercises and playing gentle strokes whilst holding the racquet with a loose grip is a sensible warm-up procedure.
Whilst a hard game of tennis can be physically demanding, the sport is also suitable for all ages and abilities, and is a true game for life with many people still playing into their eighties and nineties.
Of course, it is also a game that can be played to a high professional standard at any age – in front of the TV!