Covid lockdown started just as the tennis season was beginning in 2020. As juniors, we were getting ready for school matches, the Road to Wimbledon juniors’ programme, interclub tournaments and lots of Junior Box Ladder games. And in one fell swoop, it all stopped. The bright sunshine only seemged to rub our noses in the fact that the courts were closed and we couldn’t play. Unfortunately, our small and very uneven back garden meant that the only tennis I could play was Swingball! Not quite the same!
There was a slight reprieve over the summer holidays as some tennis resumed and my brother and I were able to book a court for the two of us to play. (My parents are rubbish at tennis so there was little point in playing against them!). Come autumn, schools reopened and tennis lessons restarted at Chipping Norton Leisure Centre, where our coach Chris managed to find a couple of floodlit courts we could play on outside. It was freezing cold but we were determined to get some tennis played at last. (One week my brother’s racket was literally coated in ice at the end of an hour’s tennis!) Things almost seemed back to normal. However, just as we were remembering how to play, along came another lockdown, and again no tennis was allowed.
Fast forward to 29th March 2021. Over a year of virtually no tennis, and far too many months of home schoolwork and Xbox. But finally the tennis club was able to reopen! Fitness levels had dropped for everyone – even our coach was complaining – but it was fantastic to be back on court. We managed to squeeze in one training session for the Wychwood junior teams before the Easter holidays began. It was brilliant to see my team mates again and we had some terrific practice matches. Tennis is a bit like riding a bike, and we soon started to remember how to serve and volley, and our legs began to remember how to run again! Everyone had a smile on their face. We now have a summer of club tournaments and Box Ladder matches to look forward to. I can’t wait to get my game back in shape again.
Tennis has taught me so much – good sportsmanship, fair play, patience, perseverance, determination, tenacity and how to stay calm in the face of adversity! I’ve made some great friends along the way and have discovered a passion for a sport that hopefully I can play for the rest of my life. And after so many months of home schooling I think my parents are very pleased to have me out of the house doing something healthy!
Dan Smith (age 15)