Column: Are you playing too much tennis, or not enough?

'My Point'

Life is a bunch of trade-offs of things you have to do — even though many of them you’d probably rather not, things you want to do, obligations of various levels and only 24 hours each day, 7 days a week and 365 days each year to come to terms with who you are and what you want in this world.

Dang that seems pretty heavy to digest.

When we’re young it seems we have all the time necessary to kill. As we finish college — learn a trade and join the work force and then obtain a family, free moments are rare, let alone time to do the things we’d personally like to do. But after the kids are out of the house, retirement nearing or already here, time for ourselves returns in a manner that we can be a little selfish.

Since this is a tennis column I’ll be focusing on how your extra time should be spent, or how I’ll spend it for you.

Do you want to just hit some balls around and not worry about how good you are, the winning or losing of each point, game or match isn’t really important — but enjoy the camaraderie and social aspects of the players? Playing once or twice a week in Drop-In-Tennis will probably fill your needs. You can just show up when it works, don’t have to worry about getting a sub and if you play awful or great it really won’t mean that much to anyone.

If you’re a little pickier about the level you’re playing, have a competitive spirit that needs nurtured and like a little organization, then you just might want to start your own weekly group of 4 players with a sub list. You get to know your group of 4 to 6 players pretty well and the friendships may only concern tennis, or could branch out to even more. You get to know one-another’s games a bit too much — and probably spouses names, maybe kids too, what everyone’s up to and where you’re going on vacation.

Want to get half-way decent — then you just have to practice and play more and against players who push your limit. Yes, that takes more time and effort...but it’s a great deal of fun too.

You’ll probably need to get in a clinic or group lesson having one of the local pro’s looking at your game, and coming up with a good game plan to make any weakness in strokes and/or strategy better. Add to that competition on a weekly basis in a good game of doubles or singles and add in a USTA League and occasional tournaments — both will test your skills against others who are doing the same, trying to improve as best possible for the time available to do such.

Now you’re playing 3 to 5 times a week. Sounds a bit addictive and just maybe you’d better make sure if you’re married they’re on-board with this new life you’re carving out, because we know if “Momma ain’t happy” we won’t be either.

It could be a lot worse vise, going to the bars, hanging out on Whiskey Row, hitting the casino’s, going out with the boys (or girls) playing cards. At least this is healthy, not too expensive and not overly time consuming.

You decide it’s time to hit the tournament trail. You can play tournaments all over the country within your age level, ability level events, or go for broke and play the open divisions. “Game ON!” Practice drills and matches become real important. Shoring up any weakness is a priority. You now only play matches and players that push you (no hit and giggle) — and create an annual schedule of events that will take you all over the country. At this point your life is wrapped around the game of tennis, your ranking, if you’re seeded, etc., at least until you get injured or burn out.

As a tennis professional and facility manager it’s important to have outlets and events for each skill level, age and time committed player. If you don’t, the person looking for their special spot may not find it and then fall to the way-side or never get started.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional and has over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.