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Fri, Dec. 06

Howard: What I like about tennis, and what I don’t
My Point

Tennis has been in my life since the age of 12.

During that time most experiences have really been great. But a few things I could have done without, and remember I’m just talking about tennis.

The game itself is pretty spectacular. You hit the ball off both sides of your body, use your legs, arms, hands. The ball can bounce, or you can take it out of the air. 

You get a great throwing motion like a pitch in baseball, but you also have the feeling of hitting soft, medium or hard groundstrokes and volleys. Types of spin are used, lobs, moon-balls, drives and there’s just enough room on the court to make it all interesting.

The timeframe to play a match takes about 90 minutes, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy a couple racquets and a can of balls — as well as to find a public court to play.

The strategy of consistency, followed by placement, and then power and touch is a journey.  Learning the fundamentals of good strokes can be done via video, trial and error, private or group lessons. 

Finding a partner to play against isn’t too difficult in this age of mass communication, heck you only need one other person to begin.

There would be a couple rules I’d change.

If you toss the ball up to serve it would count as one of your two tries.  Right now, you can toss the ball as many times and you need without any consequences.

Probably would go to no-ad scoring, getting rid of ad-in’s and ad-out’s.  The scoring would be called 1-2-3-4. First to 4 points wins each game.  Fifteen, thirty, forty, duce, ad-in/ad-out can get confusing.

Tie-breaks would be simplified. First to seven points win by two. First server serves two points, opponent serves two, change sides and keep going until someone gets to seven points and ahead by two.

Learning how each player hits and their strategy types is fun and interesting to counteract. What do you have in your game that may give you the edge, what changes do you need to make as the match progresses, and who has the stronger fortitude in a close contest. Nothing like it, especially since it’s many times only one person against another.

Players have to make their own line calls. That can be daunting at times, especially when your opponent calls in their favor when at times it may not have been warranted.

When playing outside the elements, it can be a real challenge. The wind, sun, and cold add to what you mentally have to conquer.  

Learning to deal with mistakes and maintain your cool, not make too many excuses tells a bit of a story about who you are and how you might react in other situations.

Add to that when playing doubles how your treat your partner during points that go in your favor and those that don’t. Are you encouraging even during the not so good times?  

The people playing the game of tennis come from all walks of life and that has been very interesting. The language barrier isn’t all that large when it comes to duking it out for a couple sets.

The laughing, exhilaration, screams, shrieks, quiet concentration, joking, occasional bad word, and camaraderie really goes a long way in this games success.

The stuffy game of the country club set, where the game began, is now among the common folk.

The game transcends itself from meeting casually, and within a short period of time solid friendships meeting a couple times a week and getting to know quite a bit about one another, caring and sharing in other avenues.

Looking this column over, there are so many more good things in the game of tennis than otherwise. See you on the courts!

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 

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