3 October 2019

Dodgy backhand? Not any more!

Terry Neale

After 30 years of playing football, Terry got back into tennis, joined the Portsmouth Tennis League and has not looked back! Seventeen rounds later, his game is transformed

I played for my school team back in the day, but it was a state comprehensive and tennis was a bit down the pecking order in popularity and so I pretty much got in the team by virtue of having a racket. Then I caved in to peer pressure and for the next 30 years was heavily involved in football and have only just 'found' tennis again in the last couple of years. 

It just ticks every box for me. I can play individually or with a partner, socially or competitively, have a gentle knock or a exhausting workout.  I was enjoying the social side, but just wanted to play with a bit more purpose occasionally and joined the Portsmouth Tennis LeagueAft.  I'm so glad I did. The competitive element brings a whole new aspect to the game and has encouraged me to try and improve different parts of my game.

I love a good slogging baseline rally, and have been told my flat forehand drives cause problems for opponents. But happy to mix it up and slip a cheeky drop-shot in here and there.  

Has being in the league improved my game? 100% yes. Just generally playing more frequently has vastly improved the consistency of my rallying, but by playing regularly against better standards of opponents, I have had to start thinking more about tactics and decision-making during points and I think my game now is unrecognisable from when I started in the league a couple of years ago. My backhand was always a bit of a lottery and such an obvious weak point, but now I'm not only happy to rally on the backhand but occasionally try to unleash a topspin winner  - still with varying success, but definitely getting there! 

There have been so many memorable matches in the league that I couldn't list them here, but safe to say on more than one occasion I've staggered off the court after a nigh on 3 hour marathon match, which has been every bit as dramatic as a Grand Slam final ..... in my head!

I would recommend the league without hesitation. Not only has it given me the opportunity to improve my game through competition, I have also met so many like-minded people of all different ages, backgrounds, race, gender, some of which have also become good friends off the court.

The next round of the Portsmouth Tennis League starts on 17 October. To play, join here by Monday 14 October