Originally Published: December 6, 2016 6 a.m.
It’s really not that difficult finding a way to become one of those people you see out on the courts, hitting serves and sustaining rallies - laughing, yelling in frustration while enjoying a rousing game of tennis at one of our local tennis sites.
The abilities run from players who are just beginning, intermediates and advanced, each level has a few differences that make the game exciting, because there’s always another rung to strive for, or you can just tread water at some point and enjoy those in the level you peak out at and that’s fine as well. On occasion you might even find some tennis athletes who have played college tennis and others who take the time to play all-over the state, even nationally, There are even international competitions that take place on an amateur basis if you’re good enough to make the grade.
A very small percentage of people who normally started the game at a very young age and dedicate their lives to reaching the pinnacle of the game have a slight chance of becoming professional players where their living is made with wins and losses on the ATA or WTA tours. It might be easier to get struck by lighting than reach into that special depth of tennis talent and success, but I’ll never be that person to discourage such dreams - but lets just say it’s a crazy journey and all the stars need to line up.
In Prescott the outlets are many.
If you’re looking to learn or get back at the game there are many tennis professionals who would be happy to do that with you in many ways. Individually - or with a friend or group. Maybe you have a couple others friends and you’d all like to learn together. If not and you don’t want the cost of private lessons, Yavapai College offers semester long classes twice a week (30 hours of instruction) for about $70.00. Tough to beat that cost, not to mention you’ll meet and gain built in practice partners that will soon become good friends. Go on-line at yc.edu and type in search with the word “tennis” and you’ll find up-coming classes and the college tennis web site.
At the web site (yc.edu/tennis) you see just how easy it is to make a court reservation, join a clinic, find the times and days for “Drop-In-Tennis”, playing groups, mixers - one-day and weekend long tournaments and Grand Prix events.
If you’re just looking for a game of singles you can go to the Prescott Area Tennis Association web site (prescotttennis.org) and go to their “Inter-active” page and type in your name and message of what you’d like to do - singles/doubles, your ability level and time of day that works for you. Certainly you want to have some flexibility, but as my Momma used to say, “There’s a lid for most every pot” and that is also true of finding tennis partners.
The United States Tennis Association (usta.com) compliments and encourages many different ways to approach the game, even in the rural areas of Northern Arizona with USTA League play within all levels of NTRP groupings and age groups. 18 and under/40 and over/55 and over and more recently a 65 and over league. 18 and 40 Leagues offer singles and doubles, while 55 and 65 and over age groups are doubles only. The different NTRP levels for leagues go from 2.5 (advanced beginner) to 3.0/3.5/4.0/4.5 and higher - combined levels for doubles at 6.0/7.0/8.0 and 9/0 rounds out just about everyone on the planet.
Tournaments are broken into age groups, ability levels, singles-doubles and mixed divisions. If you go on the USTA web site and look up tennislink, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find events throughout the Southwest for juniors, adults and seniors that run almost every weekend of the year. If you want to travel any where in the United States you can expand your search of such to all 17 sections and plan a vacation around your new found love of competitive tennis in every nook and cranny. you can imagine.
The benefits are far-reaching. The data shows that playing the game of tennis give you health and social benefits that increase most people’s life-spans, works the total body with cardio,the brain, and gives much social pleasure in general.
Will you ever get to play at the four majors, the Australian, French, Wimbledon or the U.S. Open...probably not - but you might see them on television or visit them on a trip. Will you learn to appreciate what it takes to reach the top levels of the game, maybe.
But the biggest question is, will you make the move to give the game of tennis a try once again, or for the first time? It’s fun, it’s social, it’s healthy - inexpensive, not very time consuming. You start out slow and build into it a little at a time.
2017 is just around the corner and hopefully you and your kids or grandkids are given and take the chance to enjoy what this special game lends itself to - “A life time (ages 5 to 95) of hitting a fuzzy little ball to and by others who have learned the game of tennis!”
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.