Keeping your kids fit and healthy feels like it’s more important than ever before and tennis is a great way for the whole family to exercise and have fun together.
You don’t need to be an aspiring Andy Murray or Serena Williams to derive benefit from playing tennis as it’s a sport you can enjoy regardless of ability. You just need a racket and a few tennis balls, and somewhere to play. There are plenty of public courts around as well where you can play for free, rather than needing to be a member of a private club or sports centre. You can even practice hitting a ball against a wall to get used to the feel of playing tennis and the techniques you need.
The one time when you will find the public courts heaving with people is during Wimbledon fortnight and the tournament can be a fantastic way to inspire your kids to pick up a racket and play. The key is making sure that the interest is maintained throughout the year and not just for a couple of weeks in the summer.
And the best way to do that is to actually take in a trip to tennis, with this summer providing plenty of highlights in British tennis – the Aegon Championship at Queen’s Club, the Aegon International at Eastbourne, the Davis Cup quarter-final tie between Great Britain and France, and, of course, Wimbledon.
The stand-out date for your diary is obviously Wimbledon.
The dates for Wimbledon, which runs from June 29 to July 12 this year, can make it tricky for the whole family to attend given the tournament is scheduled during school term time. However, the middle Saturday will still guarantee plenty of tennis being played and, if there has been rain in the week, there could be play on the middle Sunday as well.
Alternatively, if you live in the London area, you can buy a ticket for a general Grounds Admission which allows you access to the courts after 5pm when there are still three or four hours of tennis still to be played in the day.
Ticket prices will vary depending upon what stage of the tournament is being played, with it cheaper in the earlier rounds. However, that actually works in your favour as there are many more courts in use during the earlier rounds and that allows you to get much greater value for money. You can pay £18 for a ticket for Grounds Admission after 5pm, and it is £25 before that time. That admission gives you access to Courts 3-19 in unreserved seating and standing areas. If you have children under the age of five, they don’t require a ticket, although it is not recommended that you take a pushchair due to how busy it is.
by Magnus D
However, one way you can savour the atmosphere of Wimbledon which can fit around school times and not cost anything is by watching the action from Henman Hill. Or Murray Mound/Mount as it has been rechristened in recent times due to the success of the Scot. This is where a convivial crowd gathers to watch the tennis on a big screen outside the venue. What you will also often find is that when Murray is playing, in particular, he will often not be on court in the early rounds until teatime. So you could pack up a picnic, grab the kids and spend a warm, summer evening cheering on Murray, who is second favourite to win Wimbledon for the second time in his career.
If Wimbledon is on your doorstep, relatively speaking, then one way to travel to the venue is by bicycle as public bike racks are available for free. Alternatively, it’s probably best to travel by either Tube or bus, rather than driving to Wimbledon as it can be expensive to pay for parking. You can catch the District Line to either Southfields or Wimbledon station and then hop on one of the shuttle buses which run every five minutes.
A further way to pique your children’s interest, and probably your own as well, in tennis is by downloading the official Wimbledon app. This will give you all the information you need about the tournament. It can provide you with details of the latest scores and draws, and also give you details about the history of Wimbledon and profiles on players. There is also the chance to listen to the radio and watch highlights of the tennis. Given how kids lap up the use of technology, it is a good way to marry learning about the sport and taking an interest in actually playing tennis.
The traditional warm-up tournament for the men’s singles at Wimbledon, meanwhile, is the Aegon Championship at Queen’s Club. This usually attracts many of the top players in the world and runs from June 15-21, giving players a week off before Wimbledon starts. The traditional warm-up tournament for the women’s singles in Britain is the Aegon International at Eastbourne, and this year it will feature the likes of reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and the British number one Heather Watson. The Eastbourne tournament takes place the week after Queen’s, and the week before Wimbledon, so you could have a full month of watching high-class tennis in the day and then heading off to the local courts for a knock in the evening or at a weekend.
Barely has Wimbledon finished and the thrilling tennis action continues with the Davis Cup tie between Great Britain and France, which is also at Queen’s Club. This takes place from July 17-19 and it could prove to be the perfect conclusion of five weeks’ memorable tennis from a British point of view, especially if Murray can follow up his 2013 triumph at Wimbledon.
With so much quality tennis being played in Britain this summer, there has never been a better time to introduce your kids to the sport. I would heartily recommend getting into the sport as it can be a relatively cheap way to keep fit as well as proving to be a valuable way to teach your children skills and attributes which can stay with them for life.