Want to pick up a new activity and workout that is safe? Tennis is a sport that requires low numbers of people and equipment. It can be played outside, and the courts are big enough for all involved to stay the CDC recommended 6 feet apart. On a sunny day, grab a friend or two, a tennis racquet, a mask, and a water bottle to take to the courts. Here are some things to know in order to get started playing tennis.
- The Serve
To start a game, one player will need to serve the ball to put it into action. A typical service will start with the ball thrown into the air over the server’s head, the racquet being brought also above the head, and swinging downwards with the racket. While this may sound tricky, GU sophomore Emily Buratovich has some advice for first-time servers. “I would tell a beginning tennis player not to focus on where the ball goes at first…start slow and don’t serve hard until they have the motion down. It may help to practice tossing the ball and doing the serving motion separately, then tossing the ball consistently in the same place before putting the two together.” While typically the service is supposed to land in the opposite box from the server, getting the ball over the net and keeping it in bounds would be a good starting goal.
- The Forehand and Backhand Swings
To keep the ball in motion, it is important to know the basics of how to swing a racquet. First, the forehand swing is the one used when the ball is coming towards the dominant hand. GU tennis alumnus Brett Barker explained the best way to learn this skill. “Hold out your hand like you’re about to shake someone else’s hand. Then you’ll grip the racquet with a very neutral grip meaning that the head of the racquet will be in line with the ball in order for it to travel in a straight line. If the racquet is tilted too much up or down with the intent of hitting it straight, it will not go straight and will likely go out of bounds or into the net. For your actual swing make sure that you are squared up to the ball making sure your body parallel to the ball with both feet straight and in a line. You will want to start your swing from low, meet the ball a little bit out in front of you, and then finish your swing with the racquet coming over the opposite shoulder.”
Next, the backhand swing is performed when the ball is headed towards the non-dominant hand. Barker said, “For a backhand, you will have the same grip as the forehand except you will then put your other hand above your dominant hand as support, remembering, of course, to keep the racquet head in a natural position. Make sure that your body is squared like for a forehand, but mirrored. For the swing, you will start with the racquet low with the handle around the level of your hip. Then try to make contact with the ball a little out in front of you. After making contact, follow through making sure that the racquet comes up over your shoulder.” With these swings, you and your opponents will be able to keep a volley going.
- Keeping Score
Tennis scoring consists of games, sets, and matches. For beginners, if you are keeping score, knowing how to score a game will suffice. At the beginning of the game (0-0), the score of 0 is called “Love.” The score will then proceed, as a point is scored each time, as “Love-15-30-40-end of game.” Before serving, the server should call out the score starting with his or her own team’s score first. Then, after one team wins the game, the other team will serve for the entirety of the next game.
- Have Fun!
Above all, having fun is the main goal of tennis and sports in general. Along with practicing new skills, practice using good sportsmanship, and encouraging your teammates and opponents. Tennis is a great way to feed your competitive spirit, work out, and keep everyone safe while enjoying the game.
Media by Seth Isringhausen.