Tennis Anyone? Your Heart Will Love You for It!

Pro-led clinic, left to right: Pro Rita Singleton and members Marie Malloy, Carol Mihal, Tove Pape, and Sue Hansen

4.0 member Tom Marshall warming up his serve

Kathleen Marshall

“Tennis is a moving experience” is a favorite aphorism used by a renowned tennis coach to remind players to move on the court. Certainly, movement is a key element in the sport of tennis and factors into why studies have shown tennis is beneficial to cardiovascular health. In fact, one study found that people who participated in racquet sports had a 59% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality and a 47% reduction in all-cause mortality. A recent article in the AARP magazine touts tennis as ranking highest among exercises for living longer. The article refers to a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings where researchers found tennis players had the biggest gains in life expectancy over sedentary individuals, adding 9.7 years to life expectancy.

We know that tennis can be excellent cardiovascular exercise that improves endurance, coordination, and agility. As we age, most tennis is played as doubles matches and is a great activity for social interaction. The game of tennis can hone your mental and problem-solving capabilities, as well. The beauty of tennis is that it can be played at any age, it is inexpensive, and there is generally easy access to courts wherever you happen to be. Here at the Ranch, we have a vibrant tennis community comprised of players of varying skill levels and ages. Some have never played or played sporadically throughout the years and want to take it up again in retirement. Many started the sport later in adulthood, while others have been playing steadily since their teens. Whatever your level or age, there is something for everyone.

For those who are starting out, it is best to start slow, take lessons, and practice, practice, practice! Learning tennis is a lot of fun. Here in Arizona, you can enjoy the outdoor courts and nice weather, meet new people, and take on the challenge of learning a new sport. Or you may favor POP tennis, which can be played in doubles format on a shorter court with a specialized paddle and ball. Fortunately, for prospective and current players, our club has many training opportunities, including free development programs, pro-run clinics, and pro-run group or private lessons for beginning- and intermediate-level players. In addition, there are many social events, round-robin tournaments, socials, challenge tournaments, interclub competition, and for more seasoned players USTA (United States Tennis Association) competition.

If you are eager to learn tennis or improve your game, Wayne Watkins, who chairs the SaddleBrooke Ranch Tennis Association (SBRTA) Training and Development Committee has this advice: “To improve at tennis, get direction from certified instructors, hit lots of balls in practice, develop fast feet, and play matches to develop mental toughness. Don’t overthink situations, stay positive, and above all, have fun!” So, play tennis and get out and move around the court … your heart will love you for it!