I grew up in Stockbridge, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. It was a fine upbringing, but I longed to get to a bigger city. I started playing the French horn in 8th grade and I knew early on that it was what I wanted to do. Music has taken me to 4 continents and I've lived in 13 cities around the world, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I moved to Virginia Beach in 2018 as a French horn player with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. I got a cute tiny home 2 blocks from the beach, and I've loved living here. I never knew I was a beach bum, but here we are. The tennis community here is large, which has been a wonderful surprise for me. My family live up and down the East Coast (minus my brother's family in Texas), so traveling up to New York to visit my sister and drives down to Atlanta to see the parents are easy and convenient. Which league are you a
Hampton Roads, which encompasses
a lot of cities in and around Norfolk.
How long have you
participated in your league?
This is my third session
and I started last summer, 2019.
How did you first learn
Honestly, I did a web
search. I was looking to join either a league or team in my area, and TLN
seemed like the best fit - and it was.
How often do you play?
I try to play at least 3
times a week, but would love to play everyday. My body says otherwise. I've
unfortunately been plagued with a few back injuries, but it has been getting
better with regular play.
What do you like most about
I love the flexibility of
scheduling matches and meeting all the people. It truly feels like a community
with everyone in the league.
Tell us about your most
Really any match with my
hitting partners Masayo and Durrell are memorable, both for their play and
companionship. The time in between changeovers brings a great deal of
happiness and laughter.
Do you have any other
interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
I really questioned whether
or not the league would be a good fit for me, considering I worked in the evenings
and on weekends as a classical musician. But it was soon clear that the
flexibility of scheduling your own matches was its greatest asset. Having that
flexibility was key to the success of this league for myself and for those I've
How did you get started
I got started while in
grade school. My father has always been a competitive table tennis player, and
I got hooked on tennis at an early age. I took lessons, joined my high school
team, and even dreamt of making it professional, but music took over my life.
My events with tennis and music clashed far too much, so tennis was left
behind. Unfortunately I didn't really play again for 23 years, and just picked
it back up this past summer. It was NOT like riding a bike! I had to relearn so
much and it's still a struggle, but the passion came back immediately. It's a
new-found obsession, and I'm extremely thankful to have tennis during this
quarantine. It's been a savior for me.
Do you play to compete, or
Appropriate answer is fun.
Honest answer is both. Being in the competitive world of classical music where
I have auditioned hundreds of times while only landing a handful of jobs in my
lifetime (statistics show that it's harder to get into a symphony orchestra than
it is to get into the NFL) has only helped me with matches. It's funny how
angry I can get with myself during a match where I'm making dozens of errors,
so I just have to keep telling my musician self that this is fun! Of course
competition can be fun, but enjoyment should be paramount when playing
What level player are you?
Just hit 3.5 yesterday. I
started this league last summer at 2.5, so improvement has been great to see. I
would consider myself an aggressive baseliner who loves to take huge
swings deep into the court.
What do you love about
There's plenty to love, but
I guess I love the athleticism of it. I've never been one to "work
out", but tennis is the perfect sport for all ages. Something in tennis
just clicked with me, and it's hard to pinpoint what. It may be the competitive
nature of it or how much of a challenge to your psyche it is. I sometimes believe
tennis is 20% technique and 80% mental. That challenge in tennis can help you
in your day-to-day life greatly.
Who are your favorite pro
I grew up
obsessed with Monica Seles. I still think she may be the greatest player
of all-time, even though her career was forever changed by a terrible act. I
also have a two-handed forehand that I couldn't get rid of, so I saw myself in
her game. Currently I'm a huge fan of Del Potro (hope he comes back), Halep,
Andreescu, Kvitova...really any player with an incredible passion for the sport
and a huge heart for their tennis community.
are all incredibly fortunate that tennis is one of the few sports that can be
played in reasonable safety during this surreal limbo. Ever since the courts in the DC/metro area
reopened, there have if anything been more players than usual out, perhaps as
newcomers embrace the sport as their traditional exercise outlets (indoor gyms,
team sports) are still not available.
I returned to playing after hunkering at home for over two months, it was
difficult to resist the temptation to immediately schedule as many matches as
possible and basically go from 0 to 60 in my eagerness to be doing something
other than sedentary Zoom calls and watching Netflix (original series Star
Trek, anyone??) But after having spent much of the past couple years
managing injuries and playing in starts and stops, I knew it would be wiser to
come back gradually and deliberately.
anyone else trying to return after a layoff, or just trying to stay active in
middle age and beyond, I thought I’d share a few tips. They are all fairly self-evident,
but still practical, and they all come down to pacing yourself.
your matches out. Whether
you play three times a week or three times a month, make sure you take enough
time between matches for your body to recover. As you grow more accustomed to
playing this time can be made shorter. For me, I always try to have at least a
day of rest in between matches.
a consistent schedule. Once
you have a routine,don’t change it up without a good reason. If you tend to
play in the evening rather than the morning you should think twice before
altering the pattern.I know it takes me
while to loosen up over the course of the day, and I try to protect myself by
not playing too early.Also, try to aim for roughly the same number of matches
from week to week or month to month. Playing too much before your body is ready
is just asking for injury.
up before you play. I
try to go for a gentle half mile run, including side steps and jumping jacks,
followed by a short walk of about as long before I even show up to play a
match. Once my body is warm, I also take time to stretch. Stretching when
you’re totally cold is no longer recommended.
hard in the heat of competition not to want to give 100% on every point. In
general, you should, especially if you’re young. But I know if I go full out
chasing down a lob or drop shot that even if I win that point I may end up
losing the next two or three because I’m out of breath. So, if it’s2-2 in the
first set and I’m up 40-love, I might let that lob go. Keep an awareness of the
big points and make sure you’re 100% committed physically for them, but if
you’re coming back, prone to injury, or just older, you may want to be choosy
about expanding your maximum effort.
tennis, especially on what is essentially concrete, is tough. We ask a lot from
our bodies to make it happen. Don’t do too much too soon or you may have to ask
your body for forgiveness.
Since the Fall of 2019, so nine and a half months.
How did you first learn about it?
How often do you play?
Two to three times a week on average.
What do you like most about the league?
Flexible schedule, I can play on most courts, also
my opponents are friendly people and are of a similar skill set.
Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
My very first match because I won and I knew I would be able
to compete in a competitive tennis league. Also my first playoff
match since it was an accomplishment to make the playoffs. Another memorable
match is when I came back down four games to one after losing the first set and
went on to win the set and match.
Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?
Josh Maggard, Nathan Hertlein, and Nick Graham
because I have played them multiple times plus split matches with each of
Do you have any other interesting comments about your
experiences with the league?
This league makes for a great experience and hobby, it’s a
great way to meet people and have something to look forward to.
How did you get started playing tennis?
I have been playing with friends for around a decade and
decided to step it up and compete in a league.
Do you play to compete, or for fun?
Since I am a competitive person by nature I
play to compete.
What level player are you?
(NTRP rating) 3.5
What do you love about tennis?
It is highly competitive, makes for great exercise,
and it’s always possible to come back at any point during the match.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do
you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)? (Feel
free to share any interesting details about your life.)
I work in the automotive industry and I grew up in central
KY. My other hobbies are exercising, watching sports, and going out with
Tennis is a wonderful sport for strengthening your body, relationships with
fellow teammates, and reinforcing the mind’s focus. If you are looking to
master a new sport and gain some exercise, use this guide to understand every
hack and avoid the rookie mistakes.
Tennis tips for beginners will cover subjects such as:
Types of Racquets (& How to Choose the Right One
Types of Strokes & How to Serve
Mastering the Court
How to Keep Track of Scoring
And Much More
Use this guide as your one-stop-shop to all thing’s tennis. This quick read
will offer you a beginning basis that will allow you to play the game
considerably better than your average beginner.
Required to Get Started
An advantage to tennis is the
minimal amount of equipment required to start. A checklist for beginners to
utilize while shopping for their gear includes:
– These are also called rackets, depending on if the game is
Tennis, squash, or related matches. We will cover each type of racquet,
but as a beginner, you will lean towards a wider head (which simply means
you have a larger racquet to hit the ball more easily while you’re
learning). You can read more about Best
Tennis Racquet For Beginners.
– These are incredibly affordable, but you may need a lot of them.
Read our full article on Best Tennis Balls.
Your only rule of thumb when it
comes to tennis balls is to avoid a dead ball, which will be too flat for a
proper bounce. You can test this by bouncing the ball before your swing. If the
ball is ‘dead,’ it shouldn’t bounce higher than your hips.
Proper Footwear –
Your attire should allow you to:
Most tennis-specific footwear will
A studier base than a running shoe
A non-marking sole that won’t impact indoor tennis
courts with skids
The most significant component of
your footwear should be that they are comfortable and fit.
Clothing – Your outfit, similarly to footwear, should be comfortable
above all else. If your clothes and shoes are too snug, you can damage
your feet and certainly won’t enjoy Tennis. Your clothes should possess
the characteristics of being: Read our full article on What To Wear
To Play Tennis.
Easy for large body extensions and rapid movement
Full-length with shorts if it is a skirt
bag – Unless you have a court at your house, you’ll need something to
transport this gear in. You can read more about Best Tennis Bags.
The most important thing besides your racquet and tennis balls will be
hydration. Not only are you sweating profusely as you run at full speed up
and down the court, but your performance depends on it. As USTA
Sport Science claims:
“Dehydration of as little as 1-2% of body weight (only 1.5-3 pounds for a
150 lb. athlete) has been shown to reduce performance. Dehydration of 3% or
more of body weight increases a tennis player’s risk of heat-related illness
(heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke).”
Types of Racquets (& How to Choose the
Right One for You)
Your racquet dictates the quality of your game more than you
The age-old question of what type of racquet you should purchase will depend
on what’s best for your body type and needs. The main categories to choose from
#1 Power Racquets
Also called ‘Game Improvement Racquets,’ these will be suited to beginners
that have shorter swings and want a racquet that strengthens their swing. These
tend to be a bit larger and offer a wider net that allows for more balls to be
hit. Other characteristics of these racquet are that they tend to be:
More flexible for novices
Heavier near the top (top-heavy racquets will pull your weight
forward, making your swing even more powerful due to the kinetic energy.
This will help you maintain your balance and swing with greater ease).
#2 Player’s Racquets
Also called ‘Control Racquets’ are best for more advanced players. These
tend to offer you less flexibility and less power than a beginner-level
racquet. Notably described as ‘unforgiving,’ a Control Racquet is called so
because they enhance your control but don’t increase your power.
Characteristics of Player’s Racquets include being:
Heavier (often around 12 ounces)
Less Head-heavy and more evenly-keeled or handle-heavy
Heads are typically 85-98 sq. inches
Used by Professional Tennis Players for advanced tournaments
Notably – You must be physically-fit and inclined to the sport to utilize
this level of racquet. If you attempt to use this as a beginner, you may find
the game considerably more difficult than it needs to be.
#3 Tweener Racquet
Known as the blend of the previous two, your Tweener Racquet is a wonderful
median-step to take before upgrading to the Player’s Racquet. As an
intermediate balance of control and weight, the qualities you can anticipate from
this variety include:
Ideal of low-medium or medium-high swing power
Head is slightly larger, usually surpassing 100 sq.
Average weight of between 9 to 12 ounces
Although these are made for distinct
levels, there are exceptions to the rules. You could experience trouble with a
beginner level and require an intermediate, or any scenario due to factors such
Comfortability with a certain racquet weight
Bottom Line – You can try any of
these three racquet types, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Experiment with
all and determine the right fit for your swing.
Behind How to Hold Your Racquet
Just as with racquets, there are
also various methods for gripping your selected racquet.
It may seem monotonous to study the
grip-technique, but a proper grip will allow you to utilize your tools to their
fullest abilities. An improper grip will ruin your swing, so you must learn
each step in its natural order.
What you need to know beforehand is
Your racquet’s handle is octagon-shaped (meaning it is
These eight sides are known as bevels.
Players use the bevels to understand where to grip the
This one will also be known as the ‘Hammer Grip,’ or ‘Chopper Grip,’ as you
are using those movements.
When You Use It – Primarily while:
Why Use It – Because it allows for:
An opened-facing racquet that swings outwardly easily
A forceful swing grip that increases your swing’s strength
(ideal for serving)
Quick control when in need of fast defense
How to Do It –
the 8-bevels in your tennis racquet’s handle. Looking at the bevels with
your racquet perpendicular to the ground, number your bevels 1 to 8 with
the sky-facing bevel as #1.
knuckle of your index finger and your heel pad should sit on bevel #2.
outwardly and use the chopping or hammer movement.
The Eastern Grip
Subtly similar to the Continental Grip, this racquet handle will be held in
a similar feel to shaking someone’s hand.
When You Use It – Primarily for:
To flatten your ball swing
To spin the ball
To swing it at a lower height
Increasing difficulty level on your opponent
Why Use It – Because it allows for:
Advanced swinging that feels very comfortable and natural to
How to Do It –
your hand to where the index finger’s base knuckle and heel are on bevel
The Semi-Western Grip
Giving you similar benefits as the Eastern Grip, the Semi-Western Grip adds
the benefit of increased control.
When You Use It – Primarily while:
Swinging with aggressive shots
Also for forehand swings
Why Use It – Because it allows for:
Ideal for closed racquet faces
How to Do It –
describe it as the way your hand moves as you fist pump.
experts say you should seek out a natural position by placing the racquet
on the ground and determining the most comfortable technique for picking
it up. The only rule here is that your index knuckle and heel should be
placed on Bevel #4.
Practice these grips before you hit the court as you don’t want to risk
getting hit with a ball while you’re figuring out how to hold your racquet.
How to Discover Your Most Natural
The steps are to simply:
your non-dominant hand (meaning if you are right-handed, use your left
the racquet perpendicularly to the ground (not parallel to the ground
but turned 90-degrees from here).
the hand that is dominant (if you write with your right hand, it is
this one) on the strings of the racquet’s head.
your hand down until it naturally wraps around the racquet’s handle.
the space between your thumb and your index finger on your dominant
hand, point that as a V-shape aimed to your shoulder.
natural form you take when selecting a grip will indicate what feels
right. Practice with a tennis coach or receive direct mentorship for
customized adjustments to your grip.
Types of Strokes in Tennis
As your rally (which is a game in which there is a steady flow of shots
between two tennis opponents), you will need to use what you’ve learned from
your grip and apply it to your swing.
The most popular types of swings to be aware of (also called strokes) in
Hitting the tennis ball with the dominant side of your body.
How to Do It –
Determine which side is your dominant side.
Twist your body this way to where you are facing the right if
you are right-handed.
Twist your body back to openly swing forward, while keeping your
feet, shoulders, and hips pivoted in the direction of this dominant side.
Swing starting low and move it upwards.
Follow-through (meaning finish the stroke) angling towards
your non-dominant shoulder.
Hitting the tennis ball with the non-dominant side of your body.
How to Do It – Same method as forehand but opposite.
You’re likely gathering that things are named appropriately, proved by the
fact that a Volley Stroke will be utilized when by the net for close-range
How to Do It –
When the ball is falling close to the net, you will need this
swing; however, it can be done from anywhere.
Take rapid steps
Move on the balls of your feet
Keep your shoulders squared
Hit the ball when it’s about 3-feet from the net or near
hitting the ground.
Avoid swinging. Instead, think of a volley-ball technique. It
requires little follow-through but will be more like a rapid punch or
Every tennis player will have to serve eventually. Serving is done to get
the game going! How to Do It –
the ball into the air about 1-3 feet above your maximum reach. You don’t
want to go further than comfortable but you are:
Tossing the ball up
Waiting for it to come down into reach
Swinging in your most comfortable stroke style
Most stroke will be overhand and quite high, keep this in mind while
deciding when to swing at the descending ball.
approach commonly taught by instructors is to imagine as you begin to
swing that you are scratching your back.
Then, extend it above your head.
Swing to hit the ball in whatever technique feels most natural
that allows you to extend upwards. Beginners can select to serve overhand
or underhand, whichever is most comfortable. Men will be more comfortable
swinging overhand while women experience an easier time swinging
underhand. This distinction is due to the shoulder alignment in connection
to the arms:
Women’s arms externally rotate, being more opened for
Men’s shoulders internally rotate their arms, causing them to
be more closed-off and pre-disposed for overhand swings.
Follow-through for extra force and power.
Tips for All Swings
ball will go in the direction that the racquet is facing.
to snap your wrists. Not only can this cause damage, but your wrists are
not the strong or secure part of your arm and you should not be using them
as a source of power.
use your body weight to drive through with your bodily force
be aware of your feet to keep them just behind the baseline. You don’t
want to cross the baseline or extend any outward lines or net lines.
Understanding the Court
You must understand your new domain so that you are capable of ruling the
The key attributes to understand your court are:
The Surface Material – Can range between:
(Used at Wimbledon)
(Used at the French Open)
(Most common and used at the Rogers Cup)
The Lines – Will include:
Two lines down each side of the court
Four service courts (the four boxes closest to the net,
two on each side
Two baselines (the boxes furthest from the net, one on
each opposing side of the court)
If playing a singles game (between two players) – You
must keep the ball in the inner lines
If playing a doubles game (between four players) – You
must use the entire court
Any ball exceeding these boundaries is considered ‘out’
or ‘out of bounds.’
The Net – Your knowledge of the net should include:
Don’t touch it with your racquet
Shake your opponent’s hand at the net at the end of
every match as a sign of good sportsmanship
of Playing Tennis
The average tennis novice may not understand
the level of dedication and practice it takes to improve at Tennis. You could
have a knack for it, or it may take time. Regardless of how long it takes you
to master, there are so
many benefits to the game of Tennis, including:
Practicing strategic problem-solving
Increasing your heartbeat
Increasing your capacity for stress and emotional
Social sport to spend with friends or family
Overall fitness and stress reduction
The research you do beforehand can
make all the difference in your game since theory and strategy are large
components of the game.
Tips for Beginners
A few final tips for our tennis
Make mistakes –
They are integral to life, and they are how you will learn. Use them as a
tool to improve, not beat yourself up for early errors that we all make
when new to a sport (or new to anything!)
Use grass courts if available – Hard courts will be more common, but they are also
much harder on your knees and joints. Seek out a softer surface if
possible. Even clay will have slightly more bounce and ‘give’ than a
Master the Grip
– If you feel that you’re failing at Tennis, it’s likely because your grip
is incorrect for your body type. You might consider paying for at least
one lesson to have a professional coach you one-on-one. You can decide
from there if you want to keep paying for lessons, This will make the game
easier for you, and you will enjoy it profoundly more than if your grip is
robbing you of success.
You will see the most improvement if you stick with it and create a weekly
routine to practice.