In June this year it will be 5 years since Dave Williams tentatively dusted off his wooden racket for the first time in 3 decades and joined the Bexley Parks Tennis League. It's been quite a journey, but the 57-year-old is an 8-times group champ and on the form of his life
I first played tennis aged 13 and progressed to the school team, before playing for Belvedere tennis club. Sadly the club closed and 30 years followed without me playing competitive tennis as marriage, children and my obsession with following my beloved Charlton Athletic around the country took priority.
I took early retirement at just 50 years of age in 2011 and played friendly matches as I needed to get fit having been diagnosed with a blood clot the previous year. A friend mentioned the local parks league and I nervously entered the local Bexley league, playing my first match in June 2014. Even though my first opponent laughed at my ancient wooden racket, I really enjoyed being competitive again and meeting and making new friends. So much so that I have been almost ever present since, winning the League 8 times to date.
I'm 58 years young next month and it goes without saying that nearly all my opponents are considerably younger than me. Proud to say that fitness-wise I still just about compete with the young'uns. I am a left-handed baseliner, which I feel has given me an advantage when playing opponents for the first time. My main assets are that I am extremely consistent, making very few errors and can place my serve wherever I want, although it's speed has deteriorated with age! I always attack the backhand side and my opponents end up playing the majority of their shots deep in the advantage end of the court.
Fair to say I love tennis. It has kept me fit and there is so much scope to continually improve your game, whether it's first or second serve, volleying, lobbing, smash, drop shot or service returns - the list is endless.
My game has improved since joining the league and for the last 4 years I have been playing for Bexleyheath Tennis Club where I have experienced success captaining both the Men's and our Vets (over 45s) first teams. I recently played against an 80 year old in a club doubles. If the ball was hit within 2 metres of him, no matter how hard, he would return the ball anywhere on your side of the net. A true inspiration and my ambition now is to emulate him, should I reach that age.
As you can see I have made lots of new friends playing tennis. I certainly have a lot to thank Nigel, Sally and their team for. I would recommend the parks league to anyone.
The next round of the Bexley Parks Tennis League runs from 11 April to 5 June 2019. To join, click here