It’s an annual thing for many, the magnetic attraction to pick up an old tennis racquet buried in the wardrobe or cupboard, always coinciding with the arrival of Wimbledon – the grass court season and tennis world’s zenith.
Like resolutions made as the Gregorian calendar refreshes, the will to follow through can falter as the weather changes, and life gets in the way, the racquet goes back in the wardrobe, and the partner berates the decision to purchase that pair of brand spanking new white tennis shoes.
It’s a familiar routine for many, but instead of reneging on those promises to self, why not look at joining a local club who’ll help keep that motivation going? Make those inspired purchases worthwhile, and do a world of good for yourself in the process.
Maresfield Lawn Tennis Club (MLTC) are a sporting charity, with impressive facilities and a friendly atmosphere, geared towards being welcoming to all levels of players. They boast five hardcourts made of Macadam, meaning that they’re playable year-round, four of which are floodlit which allow play even on winter evenings and enable their Wednesday early evening club sessions. They even have an exciting new addition to their facilities: a touchtennis court.
A fairly recent variation of the sport, touchtennis is ideal as either a gateway to the full-sized game or for those enjoying their advanced years, with the games still as competitive as you want them to be. It takes place on a smaller sized court, and couldn’t be a better introduction for getting used to the racquet either for the first time, or rekindling former skills.
Aside from the impressive facilities, the club has been working hard to renovate the grounds, clearing space for spectating, improving pathways, and have been making a concerted effort to improve disabled access – changing steps for gentle slopes, and work to take place in the coming future on the clubhouse entrance, and widening gates onto some of the courts.
But all the work isn’t in construction alone. The club competes with others in county and regional leagues, punching well above their weight if recent successes are anything to go by. Maresfield’s ladies first team achieved a runners up spot in the South East region, defeating other clubs such as Queen’s, and even the Wimbledon Club, losing only to Roehampton. Given the size of Maresfield versus the talent pool of the famous London clubs, that’s an astonishing feat.
Annually an internal competition is held also for those interested, taking place in June, which gives players a real chance to test themselves and the work they’ve been putting in during the previous year.
It might be as you’re reading this that you’re not thinking of yourself, but rather opportunities for the youth in your family.
Specialised junior programmes for different age groups have garnered much praise, with award-winning local coaching team Le Tennis providing weekly lessons, holiday camps, and lessons at many of the local schools, making it extremely easy to start from an early age. Just as with adults, all levels are catered for, with short sessions to gauge ability and which level might suit best.
The club waives any charge for use of their courts for children’s group coaching, in a bid to reduce the costs as much as possible, just as Le Tennis keep their costs reasonable, sharing the ethos that hopefully in doing so they enable as many children as possible to experience the game and benefit from lessons.
The icing on the cake are the very modest membership fees to join the club, which also give you free membership to British Tennis, and if aged nine or over qualifies you to enter the ballot to purchase Wimbledon tickets.
It can be daunting, taking that step; whether getting back into any sport after a significant period of time, or deciding to go for it and take up a new one, one you’ve never played before but always had that lingering interest.
MLTC couldn’t be a more welcoming place, fully accepting of any ability level, coaching to improve your game whatever your current standard. With around 150 members you are almost certain to find opponents or partners who match your level, and probably make firm friends in finding them.
Give Maresfield a look, check their website, pop down when suitable and see if it might be for you.
Their weekly club sessions are held on a Wednesday from 6pm till 8, and Thursday 10am to 12.
Written by Neil Sonsthagen.
Images courtesy of MLTC.