15 January

Downing Pounds, Not Pints

David Hughes

I cannot overstate how proud I am to transition from someone who was overweight and shunned any kind of sport, to someone who now eagerly awaits the chance for the leagues to reopen so I can compete once more.

 

I write this in January, in our third lockdown, at a time of severe uncertainty and fear. While not advocating for courts to open right now (although I agree it’s a very socially distant sport) I want to simply say that I am really missing the opportunity to play tennis. 

In May 2020, I played tennis for the first time in 20 years. It took a good few sessions to remember the basics but I find it remarkable that the muscle memory of how to hit certain shots stays with you. 

I grew in confidence from playing with friends, to meeting new people at social tennis, to finally joining Local Tennis League in September last year. 

I am grateful to have found something so enjoyable to occupy some of my time. When playing I think of little else and that distraction is very welcome. I also cannot overstate quite how good it can be in terms of fitness and aiding my weight loss journey. 

Tennis is the first sport I’ve played in public since school. I’ve used a rowing machine in private for many years but lacked the confidence to take things up in public. To now have the confidence to go and play competitively is life changing. It’s very refreshing to meet others in a scenario that isn’t work related or with friends you already know. 

These league matches provided a fun and competitive environment to practise my skills and channel my energy. Every player I’ve met has been very friendly and I’ve almost always played an extra set for fun at the end of the match. I’ve always come away feeling fulfilled and pleased, even if I’ve lost. It also enabled me to see more of my local area by travelling to different tennis courts and clubs; another benefit I wouldn’t have thought about before. It’s also helped to increase my pool of possible tennis partners for when the courts open up again. Furthermore it’s just nice meeting strangers in an environment you are both already comfortable in and have something in common. I think the pandemic has really highlighted our collective need for social interaction. 

I cannot overstate how proud I am to transition from someone who was overweight and shunned any kind of sport, to someone who now eagerly awaits the chance for the leagues to reopen so I can compete once more. And let’s be real, it is competition after all! 

While returning to the court, I was also helping to care for my mother who was suffering with a terminal brain tumour. She passed away in early December. She was a big tennis fan and having both my matches and events like the US Open available to discuss and watch was lovely for us. We even managed to get her out in the summer to watch me play with a childhood friend, serving wine and snacks on the side line. 

Tennis provided a distraction for me, and countless others, from some of these stresses of the last year. When focusing on how one positions their feet, strikes the ball and moves around the court, it doesn’t leave a huge amount of brain space for much else! I even played for over two hours the day after the funeral, with an awful hangover no less. 

It’s funny to think just how much I am missing doing something that I hadn’t given much thought to in the last 20 years, especially as January dutifully drags on. Hopefully we will be back on the courts very soon, in more stable times. 

 

Follow David's journey here and if you're keen to get on court, find your Local League here. Please note, dates are provisional.