Hobbies. I’ve always had lots of hobbies, although nowadays they tend to be quite lazy ones. This year I’ve tried to get back into an older hobby – getting back to playing a bit more tennis.
Previous hobbies are still with me.
Reading has always been in my life since being a bookworm child. Now I only read one book at a time, but I still get through a lot of books every year. Generally I read crime or psychological thrillers, romance or chick lits. With a few ‘job’ accounts books that are popular nowadays (medical, law, social based – I’ll read most of them), or more contemporary literature based books for something a bit different and more thoughtful.
Jigsaws are always something I can pick up, although I’ve had a few week’s break now.
I’ve taught myself to use the sewing machine, so I’ve been making a few craft makes. It takes up a lot of time though, just in the setting up. So I do find I need a lot of time to make things.
Previously I did a lot of dancing. I had a big gap after having N, then returned for a couple of years before I had a bit of an ankle injury, so stopped. Then Covid arrived and I’m not planning to go back dancing for a while, or until there are more nights planned. I’ve done a bit at home over the last couple of years, and got a really good annual offer for tap dancing video lessons. Needless to say I’ve not yet started them, but I should do. I’ve always wanted to try tap dancing.
Since N’s been playing more tennis, I’ve been involved with that through captaining their team. It’s good for the social life, and I enjoy supporting the children and watching them enjoy playing.
Back to tennis
Everyone seems to think I must have played a lot of tennis and be pretty good. I think I’ve always been better at watching others and seeing what they’re doing right or wrong, rather than being good myself. In my schools I was good – I was captain of the team at secondary and 6th form, and got tennis colours at secondary. But compared to children nowadays, our standard was pretty terrible.
Back in the late 80s and 90s, we only played tennis in the summer term at school. There wasn’t a tennis club in the village, so we only had the occasional week of summer tennis camp. Which was a bit pointless learning lots over the summer holidays, but then not playing again until the following Easter. Now they play all year round, and there’s much better coaching in terms of what children learn.
I did decide to join the tennis club with N though. It means I can go and practice on the courts with N, and in theory go to the mix in adult sessions.
The last time I properly played tennis was 6th form. By uni I was focussing on squash, and after that played a lot of squash including for a team. So that’s sent my tennis a bit haywire too. Add to that, I’m not particularly fit. I’ve got an occasionally dodgy knee from an old dislocated knee (squash injury). And despite losing quite a bit of weight, I’m still overweight.
My game is not pretty. In fact, I’m not sure you can really call it a game.
My hitting is erratic. Generally my aim is non existent (I struggle getting the ball down the line, although cross court is fine).
My serve…well, the toss up needs a lot of practice.
Backhand is quite good – aided by doing a lot of that, when we used to all stand in line to hit forehands. For me it was a backhand as I was the only left hander.
Volleys are ok.
Since the junior coaching at the club on Sundays stopped, it’s meant junior club morning is informal. So we pop down and play for an hour.
Really it’s meant to be me giving N hitting practice. But he’s turned into a mini coach. Last week he was repeating back what his coach had been telling him to do with footwork and follow through. IT’s good to know it’s been sinking in with him.
It’s only taken a few weeks to get my eye back in and feel like I’m improving.
My shots are getting more reliable. There’s more balls on N’s side of the net than around my side. Less are going in the net, and more (just about) are going in the court.
N also likes to do a lot of serving practice. Like most people my serve was never the best, and returning to tennis, it was terrible. Most weren’t even getting over the net. Those balls that did, were miles out.
Practising regularly means there’s been progress. My toss up is getting more reliable. My action feels fairly smooth. N takes ages to do one serve, but my whipping them out one after the other means I’ve got more chance to get my action flowing. To get the speed and angle on the ball practiced. Last week I was finding a lot more balls going in the correct service box.
It made me feel better about my tennis. I think give it a few more weeks, and maybe by half term, but certainly by the new year, I’ll be confident enough to start going to the adult club sessions.
N has helped with his serving tips.
I’ve now moved from what he called the ‘ice cream cone’toss up – where you hold the ball in your fingertips. It’s way too inaccurate. I’m now using a palm based toss up. So much more accurate as long as my arm’s straight.
I was also finding I had quite a bit of slice on my serve, which wasn’t helping to keep it under control. I had no idea which direction it would go in. He told me off for not using chopper grip.
When I was taught the teachers just used to go on about Eastern grip, but I had no idea whether I was turning the handle the direction I was meant to – in those days everything was taught to right handers, and I had to work it out myself. I did know chopper grip (what they use for volleying), so switched, and straight away got 3 serves in on the trot. I’m not sure N’s so pleased because now I’m getting more serves in than he does. He tells me it’s because I’ve got a full size, and oversized, racket rather than his junior 26 inch. He’ll move up to full size 27 inch in January I expect.
We’re having a lot of fun playing when we can, and my aim is that I continue playing. It’s great for exercise, but more fun. Even just playing casually, hitting and not really running anywhere, I still burn a lot of calories and get a lot of steps.in. I need to take my chance hitting with N before he gets too good and I fall a long way behind.
I’m pleased that he enjoys it too. He sometimes asks to arrange to see friends at the courts, but they rarely play for more than 20 minutes. With me, we’ll play for over an hour. I think he likes the fact he can boss me around a bit, as well as getting to play extra tennis.
He’s told me I’m getting good enough to sign up for Rusty Rackets. So I need to be looking out for some coaching sessions. At least I know I won’t totally embarrass myself, like I thought I might have done.
Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be playing for a while, unless it’s just to hit some serves. N has a painful heel. From googling, it looks like a common injury for kids around puberty time, and for children who do a lot of sports. So I’m hoping by resting for a few weeks, the pain will ease. We’ll get him some insoles and better padded tennis shoes, then hopefully he’ll be ready to start easing back into sports again.
Have you taken up hobbies you used to do previously? How did you get back into them?