Firstly, let me apologise for the topless tennis photo above. I realise that 95% of people may not have even reached this stage of the post due to that image, but there is a bloody good reason for it – the upcoming Great British Tennis Weekend (GBTW) on 16th and 17th July gives you and your family the opportunity to attend tennis sessions for free. Just be thankful that I’ve not attempted to recreate the famous Tennis Girl photo featuring Fiona Walker’s cheeky bare bum cheek…
I’ve always been a sporty kind of fella. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched and played a wide variety of sports. I’m not sure what it is about sport – be it the atmosphere, excitement, competition or sexy physiques – but, for me, there’s not much that comes close to the euphoric highs and depressing lows. Well, apart from Judge Rinder and Homes Under The Hammer.
Growing up, I remember both my Grandad and my Mum being really interested in sport. Some of my favourite memories of my late Grandad were related to football – teaching me about one-twos in the garden, going to matches together, watching games on Sky Sports and him cheering me on from the sidelines when I played for my local team.
Similarly, playing and watching different sports was something my Mum and I did a lot when I was growing up. We’d often sit down together in front of the TV as we bonded over the tennis at Wimbledon, darts at Lakeside and snooker at The Crucible.
But it didn’t just stop there – we’re both very competitive and used to enjoy pitting our wits against each other whenever we could. I vividly remember us battling over pool, table tennis, ten pin bowling, basketball (or netball to her), darts, Swingball, air hockey, rounders and tennis.
As you may have gathered, we were a pretty active family growing up. This was particularly true when we went on holiday. We didn’t have a lot of money, so holidays were often spent in a caravan somewhere around the country. That didn’t stop us doing things though. We spent a lot of time just playing together as a family – we didn’t need money for things like the cinema, theatre or eating out. All we needed was each other’s company and a board game, bouncy ball or tennis racket.
In fact, tennis is something I really enjoyed playing as a kid and teenager. We’d always take our rackets with us on holiday and manage to get a few hours of family tennis time together – often sneaking onto an empty court without paying, shhhhh. More often than not, it started off with a friendly game of doubles – my Dad, Mum, Bro and I – before the other two got bored and left my Mum and I to the more serious, competitive stuff.
There was no better feeling than unleashing a rocket of a serve, a well-timed lob or a scintillating backhand across the court – particularly if it outfoxed my Mum. You might think that’s a little mean, however my Mum was exactly the same! It was a dark day for her when the tide turned and I was able to beat her more often than not. For me, it was a momentous occasion.
Although a Mum versus Son battle rarely happens on the court these days, the desire to compete is still alive and well. We’ve been to Centre Parcs as an extended family a couple of times over the last few years and it’s not taken long for us to relieve the glory days – not too dissimilar to Sylvester Stallone coming out of retirement for one last fight in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa.
The only difference now is that Short Tennis is more appealing as it means less running around. I’d love to say that I’m thinking of my Mum with this decision, but the truth is that I’m no longer the athlete I once was. I know, shocking, isn’t it?
Having grown up in this sporty fashion, it’ll come as know surprise to learn that I want my own little family to adopt a similar mantra. Even at the tender age of 23-months old, I try to do what I can to ensure that Toddler L has an active lifestyle. Although handing a racket and ball is a little out of her capabilities at the moment, she does plenty of stuff like swimming and football.
I would love to get her into racket sports like tennis though. Not only will it keep her active and allow us to spend time together having fun as a family, but I need some competition in my life as the missus is the least competitive person ever at sports. We’ve played when we’ve been on holiday, but I properly have to rein it in – it’s almost like keeping a lion caged in a zoo…
Play For Free With The Great British Tennis Weekend
If you’re like me and looking for ways to get your kid / family into tennis, then mark your calendar for Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July. This is the Lawn Tennis Association’s Great British Tennis Weekend (GBTW) – a nationwide ‘open days’ campaign aimed to get more people into the sport by offering free opportunities to play. You cannot be serious? I am!
In 2015, over 50,000 tennis sessions were attended as part of GBTW, allowing families to get outside, have fun, try something new and learn a few moves on the court. This year, you can take advantage of these free tennis sessions all across the UK.
To take part in this free tennis fun for all the family, simply visit ClubSpark where you can search for what’s happening at your local tennis club and book your family a session. Just think, your kid could be the next Johanna Konta, Daniel Evans, Tara Moore, Marcus Willis, Heather Watson or even *gulps* Andy Murray.
N.B. This is a collaborative post. I’m working with the Lawn Tennis Association on their #GBTW campaign. Sign up for your FREE tennis activity with ClubSpark here.[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Like what you’ve read? Want more? Pop in your email to get all of the latest posts.”]