Downend & Frenchay Tennis Club News – Tales from the Tennis Court

Downend & Frenchay Tennis Club

A member of Downed and Frenchay Tennis Club tells the story of her personal journey onto the courts.

October, November, and December are thrilling times for adult tennis. The big dramatic skies over the tennis courts, the sun sets. The cold refreshing breeze on our hot faces. The occasional gust of wind that makes the balls fly as fast as Emma Raducanu’s best! A delicious time to be outside playing tennis with good people.

I started playing tennis at the Downend and Frenchay Tennis Club in 2019. As an office worker, new to Bristol, in my forties, I was following self-help guides to join a minimum of 2 clubs, to build up my sense of belonging to Frenchay, improve my mental health and get fit. I chose Tennis and singing in a choir. With the global Pandemic, the choir stopped, but Tennis kept going and my enjoyment and love of the sport increased.

In 2019 I was a complete beginner. I’d not played tennis at school. I didn’t go to the gym. My only exercise was walking at the weekends and occasionally dancing at the pub with friends. My ability to catch a ball, let alone hit a ball with a racquet was non-existent.

I remember when I joined, everyone was very kind, but I was embarrassed by my lack of any natural skill or ability. I discovered other beginners hadn’t played tennis for decades or had only played at school.

It was Chris, the coach, and the laughter and fun from my fellow beginners that made that first hour of tennis fun. It felt like 10 minutes of play - not an hour. Chris is one of the many exceptional coaches at this club. Kind, good humoured and talented. He encourages best practice in everyone. By listening to Chris and the other coaches I can now occasionally win a match at the women’s social evenings!

With home working and flexible hours, I now get to play tennis 5 times per week:

  • Sunday at 6pm is beginners class. Regularly new absolute beginners join the group. Like me when I started, their coordination and ability to stand in the right position, assess speed of ball, hit ball, and get the ball to land in the right place seems impossible. I see their embarrassment and frustration. I know they will ‘get-it’, they just need to stick with these classes. With determination, time, and practice some beginners now play for DFTC in Avon League Matches. Many of us long-term ‘beginners’ remain in this class out of habit, but with the evolution of the club, us intermediates may need to move to a different class!
  • Saturday at 9am I play for 45 minutes in another beginners class. This is a small group of ladies and men. It’s great to start a Saturday with a coaching by Chris. We usually go to Starbucks next door afterwards.
  • Tuesday at 9am. Women’s tennis. Intermediate level doubles & singles. 1 to 2 hours. Followed by a drink at Starbucks.
  • Wednesday 6pm or 7pm, 1 hour of Intermediate/advanced Women’s doubles. Fast paced and determined players. Great for releasing work/life pressures.
  • Friday at 9am. Women’s tennis. 1 to 2 hours. Followed by a full English at Dings Rugby club.

Why You should join DFTC

Whatever level you are at, you will spend so much time concentrating on that little green ball that you won’t have capacity to worry about anything else. Plus, time whizzes by. 1 hour of high intensity exercise playing tennis feels like 15 minutes. Being outside and playing with fun people will make you feel good after you’ve played. That happy feeling can last the whole day and helps with sleeping.

Winter tennis is great. You can feel the autumn and winter moving in with all that fresh air. When you get home, your home feels even more cosy. Playing in the cold makes you feel very awake and alive. Sky is dramatic over the courts.

DFTC is welcoming and inclusive. Active in removing cliques. Where kindness and fun for all are the objectives. You’ll find players that have more, less, and equal skills to your own. There are many more classes than I have mentioned. Some for absolute beginners, some for advanced players. Plus, you can get private lessons.

It can be scary to try something new, but with DFTC, it’s worth it!

I look forward to seeing you soon, Wanda