24 June

Baseline battles

Hellinda Smith

It took Hellinda a long time to summon up the courage to join a local tennis league, but once she did, she never looked back. She has played in four leagues already and does not rule out trying more

I was brought up in Swansea and I did a taster session at Swansea Indoor Tennis Centre (many years ago when while still a student!). Then, after I moved to the south east, I started playing at the Bucks Indoor Tennis Centre in High Wycombe. It was a surprise to find that there were few opportunities for singles play, only ratings tournaments which meant travelling huge distances, and consequently I stopped playing for about 10 years. When I started again, the Centre was run by new management headed by Guy Britton and he suggested I join the league as it would improve my game. I was too nervous to join initially and it took months and months to pluck up the courage to go ahead. It was a wonderful feeling after the first match and I thought to myself “why did you make such a fuss about joining!”

I like the way tennis is such good healthy outdoor exercise. It helps me to be calmer in everyday life and deal with things better. Tennis is also a challenge. You never stop learning!

I’m a baseline player, attacking from there and rarely coming to the net and being in the league has most definitely improved my game.  There are so many different types of players and I have also made friends through it. We meet up for a “friendly” on a regular basis.

The league is an opportunity to play singles which I have found is rarely available at tennis clubs as they tend to concentrate on doubles play and I would most definitely recommend it. It is also good for networking and has enabled me to meet interesting people from all over the world: Bulgaria, Australia, Austria, New Zealand, the Czech republic, Argentina, Spain, India & France. 

I am currently still coached by Guy but at a different venue. Unfortunately he no longer runs the Bucks Indoor Centre, so I have defected to the Slough league is which nearer! But I played a friendly yesterday with an old tennis pal, Jamal Ali, who I met through the High Wycombe league. He is a great advocate of the Reading League, and says it’s one of the best so who knows where I will be playing next!

The leagues have enabled me to gain the invaluable experience of match play. Every match is a learning curve physically and mentally.  It’s such a shame that it wasn’t available earlier on in my tennis career. I can’t imagine life without it now!

The next round of the Slough Tennis League starts on 1 August. To have a go, join here