Tennis lessons as a teenager

by Lisa
(Dorset, UK)

When we were teenagers, being home schooled, my parents wanted to make sure that we had access to sports.

As young children we'd spent many, many hours with tennis racquets bouncing a ball off of plain brick wall at the side of the house. I'm full of admiration for my mother who must have had the patience of Job to put up with the constant bump, bump, bump of the ball hitting the wall.

We spent a lot of time playing "tennis" on the back lawn too. We didn't have a proper net, just a skipping rope laid across the grass to mark the place where the net should be. My mother always watched the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships so we always became full of enthusiasm for playing tennis during the last two weeks of June.

We had one cheap set of what were probably not much more than beach racquets and we also had my aunt's "proper" racquet. It had catgut strings and had to be kept in a press to keep it straight. It was a beautiful racquet and the source of much disputing between my sister and I over whose turn it was to use it.

After we moved house from a farm into a town we still played tennis in the garden. But being in town was an advantage because there were public tennis courts that we could use.

We had an idea of how to play from watching Wimbledon with my mum and we understood how to score the games. But we'd never really learnt the techniques.

At that time there was a sports shop in the town called Braggs. It was run by Mr Bragg who was a friend of one of our relatives. He and our relative had played junior mixed doubles at Wimbledon in the early 1950s.

In addition to the sports shop Mr Bragg also gave tennis lessons with another friend of his.

As teenagers we thought it was hilarious that the tennis tutors were called Mr Bragg and Mr Bray but there was no doubt that they really did know what they were talking about.

They taught us how to do all the strokes properly. I thought I had a weak backhand but Mr Bragg said that it was actually my forehand that was not as strong. Because I was conscious of my backhand I paid more attention when making a return shot.

Learning how to play properly allowed my sister and I to enjoy many more hours of tennis. We played on the public courts with friends and we still played at home in the garden.

It's many years ago that we were living at home and sadly playing tennis was one of the many things that got left behind. Nowadays I don't even watch the Wimbledon championship either. The massive amounts of prize money have made it so competitive and rowdy that I don't enjoy it any more. My personal view is that it's better to play a game because you enjoy it.

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