Why We Fall in Love with Tennis

How many times are we going to hear the phrase “LOVE means nothing to a tennis player?!” Yes, of course this is a true statement, LOVE in tennis technically means 0, nada, zilch – I get it already! But, in the spirit of the upcoming lovey-dovey, buy your significant other some chocolate and roses holiday (Valentine’s Day, for those I have already lost) let’s turn this phrase upside down.

Here are my top 5 Reasons to Fall in LOVE with tennis

  1. Tennis Players are pretty easy on the eyes. I mean, this is a general statement, but let’s take a look at those professional players who grace our TV’s a few times a year: Serena Williams, Eugenie Bouchard, Rafal Nadal, Roger Federer to name a few. They are as athletic looking as they are smart – outwitting their opponents with drop shots and kick-serves that would make anyone melt. Brawn and brains – seems like a good reason to love [watching] tennis right there.
  1. It’s adaptable. Thanks to recent advancements in court size, racquet size, and those Red/Orange/Green/Yellow tennis balls – tennis is truly a sport for a lifetime that you can play at any age, with anyone. No date for Valentine’s Day? No worries! I bet you could find a tennis date to meet you on your local court – your 4-year-old nephew, your 63 year-old-Aunt, your friends’ grandmother’s god-daughter’s boyfriend…Whether they (or you) have played tennis before or not, tennis now can adapt to your ability to rally a ball with another human and, best of all, most equipment can be picked up at your local large retailer.
  1. You can wear cute clothes. I don’t know how many USTA Mid-Atlantic events I have worked in the last 11 years where I have not walked away saying “OMG I want your shirt”; “I LOVE your shoes”; “Where did you order that from?” to a player. (A) Tennis players in our Section know how to dress and (B) tennis clothes designers kind of know what they’re doing (In my opinion, of course). These days, I am loving the neon, the tanks with the crisscross backs, the trendy “I can run into TJ Maxx after my match without a second thought look” outfits. Speaking of which, maybe we should create a t-shirt with the “Reasons to Fall in LOVE with Tennis” slogan on it [mental note].
  1. It’s healthy. Yes, we are saying it again. Not only is tennis a “lifetime sport”, but the British Journal of Sports Medicine did an observational study which says people who play “racquet sports like tennis appear to live longer than their non-playing counterparts”. So get out there and play – it didn’t say you had to play well, it just said play. If that’s not a reason to fall in love with the sport of tennis I’m not sure what’s going to tip the scale for you here. Play Tennis = Live Longer. [I think that’s a second t-shirt slogan idea]
  1. It’ll tickle your senses. If you have not popped the top on a can of tennis balls and taken a big, deep breath in of that wonderful new tennis ball smell recently – do it. Now. Maybe it’s just me, but I love that smell. And what about the pop of a tennis ball off your strings when you have struck the ball at the exact sweet spot of your racket with a nice clean swing…wow. Love that sound of a big forehand down the line winner. How good does water taste after a long match?! That fuzzy tennis ball you hold tightly clinched in your fist before a service toss sends goose bumps up your arm. The colors of the bright blue hard courts at your local tennis spot just draws your vision to that slightly tattered white net strap ready for your next drop shot just to trickle right over it for an easy point. Our senses come alive on the tennis court.

For fun, I asked some friends and co-workers for their reasons to fall in LOVE with tennis this Valentine’s Season:

“To find your soul mate” –Christy C., a former teammate at James Madison University who met her husband while playing tennis in college

“Family Sport for Life! It allows my wife and two young daughters an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon together on the courts” – Matt B., USTA National Manager of Junior Team Tennis

“It’s more fun than running!” –Caroline D., USTA North Carolina Director of Team Tennis & Growth Leagues

“It’s social! Tennis creates such a bond between people” –Sarah R., USTA New England Manager, Community Tennis Development

“Toss up between the tennis player fist pump or the grunting” –Kyle H., USTA Mid-Atlantic Manager, Community Programs, West Virginia

So, are you ready to fall in love with tennis?

Shell Wood is the events manager at USTA Mid-Atlantic. If she’s lucky, her Valentine’s Day will consist of her kids not wiping their runny noses on her shirt, her husband not bringing her flowers (allergic), and dinner at her favorite restaurant – Chipotle!