A few weeks back I decided to take on a new venture, tennis, which for those who know me and my athletic ability, know to laugh. However, despite the comical aspect of me taking part in a sport, I have signed up for the Tennis Apprentice Program at the new Oakland Tennis Center.
This is a six week program, at the Oakland Tennis Center of course, and the instructors come straight from Newberry College, Mark Gardiner, head tennis coach, and Beth Williamson, assistant coach.
Last week was my first week in the program, I unfortunately missed the first week due to a conflict. So last week I came early to make up the lesson, and tennis is a lot more complicated then it appears to be. I was able to work with Beth one on one during the make up session. During the lesson I was taught the proper way to hold a racquet, as Beth put it, it’s like holding a pan when you are making a pancake. She also taught me proper aim, stance, and how to use my left arm to follow the ball.
The first part of the lesson went pretty well, I can say with pride that I didn’t hurt a single person when hitting the ball, granted I came close a few times.
Soon after, the other apprentices came and we worked as a group. This week we learned about blocking and serving. While learning the game, you pick up that a lot of the game involves how you position your arm and wrist. For me, it takes a few attempts to fully remember everything you have to do, from where your arm is positioned, to how hard to hit. As Beth put it, people should put on hard helmets when I prepare to serve.
Although I am only a week in, I can already tell that I will enjoy this program. I’m learning a lot about tennis, and it is honestly a great work out. Mark and Beth are very knowledgeable, skilled and most importantly, patient. For me, that is key, I’m not the type of person that will pick something up quickly, so working with someone who is not only encouraging, but patient is important.
Now, something I was not prepared for was the pain. For three days my arm was in PAIN from tennis, while we only played for a few hours, my arm felt like it was put through the ringer. There was also an incident where I hit my knee with my racquet, thanks to my tennis partner, but that was not as bad as the arm pain. I reached out to some friends of mine who played tennis at Newberry College who gave me some tips. They also broke down why my arm was hurting so bad. Basically, I need to change the way I swing.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next few weeks of tennis, and hopefully I progress to be a decent player. I feel this program is really highlighting what Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer has said many times about this program, “we wanted to not only create a tennis center, but a tennis program.”