13 March

Getting into the swim of winning

Omer Malik

So easy to pick up, so difficult to master... Omer's take on tennis just about sums it it up, but he's not given up on being the best player he can be and has the encouragement of Rafa Nadal to prove it!

I used to play tennis with my best friend after school at the local park - it was just for fun but I soon realised just how enjoyable the game was (but also how hard the game was to master!). After that friends, football, university, swimming and computer games got in the way so I gave it up for over 15 years. I only got back into it in the past few years once I moved into a new area and joined a local tennis club – I then started to play some advanced players which encouraged me to play even more as well meeting such nice folks.

I wouldn’t say I like tennis – I love tennis! The buzz of hitting a tennis winner, playing in the sunshine, the wonderful workout you get, it’s a brilliant sport which is so easy to pick up but so difficult to master there is a challenge to do better. It's a wonderful self-improvement challenge and there are so many resources out there to help you learn - coaches, YouTube, articles, hitting against a wall, fellow players, matches on television.

The reason I adore tennis is because every point is unique, every match and every player is different. It's all about problem solving in a dynamic and fluid environment and it can be in social setting or a competitive setting.

It’s more about just hitting a tennis ball you have to hit it one more time than your opponent – it is hard work sometimes and I am normally sweating but you keep going and fighting. Sometimes it's a beautiful spring day with a light breeze, but other times it trench warfare in the deep of winter. It's a great feeling. I also adore the history and traditions of the game – I would say it’s a "gentleman’s" sport and you get to meet so many nice, respectable and warm people.

Tennis is like a good swim which produces endorphins that in turn stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and consequently makes you feel great when you’ve finished. It such a great workout and I think I read a study from the university of Oxford playing a racket sport for just three hours a week reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 56 per cent so for me tennis is a win win sport 

I went on a tennis holiday in Spain (the Rafa Nadal Academy) organised by Local Tennis Leagues which was itself one of the best holidays I had been to – I met some wonderful folks, played some great and fun tennis in a social setting, went to the beach and also played a competitive tennis tournament – which spurred me on to join the Lee Valley Tennis League which is I must say incredibly well set up and organised.

Generally, I'm a baseline player but I am trying to improve my net play and certainly playing in the league has helped my tennis, but I would say the Academy trips have has improved my game even more.

In one of the tournaments at the Rafa Nadal Academy I won the doubles competition with Adam (a great player and extremely likeable person!). We were down several match points somehow we turned it around with the support of the cheering crowd – we won another tennis holiday at the academy as well a Nadal-signed certificate and some other awesome goodies! It doesn't get much better than that.

The league is not just a chance to play tennis competitively but also to meet lifelong friends. I couldn't recommend it more highly!

Join next round of London's Lee Valley Tennis League, which begins on 26 March here. The deadline is 23 March.