Paul and best friend Mark have always been side by side when it come to tennis, from stealing Paul's sister's wooden rackets in their youth to contesting an epic 6-7 (7-9), 7-5, 6-4 in group one of the latest Cardiff league. We caught up with one of the dynamic duo to see how they have inspired each other to success.
In the mid 80s, I watched Becker, Lendl, Edberg, McEnroe, Navratilova and Graf, and this got me interested in the game. My best mate Mark and I used to steal my sister’s wooden rackets and go to the courts. My dog was really good at finding lost tennis balls in the hedges next to the tennis club! However, we were never members of clubs and didn’t play any tournaments. Mark and I pretty much learned to play together, and only really played against each other all through our teen years. As a result we know each other’s games inside out and always have a keenly fought battle.
Mark saw a poster about the league at our local courts and told me about it. That was a couple of years ago when I was just returning to tennis. I’d had over 10 years off so the league came at just the right time. I haven’t missed one since.
I’m useless at the net, so doubles doesn’t really suit me. I find it frustrating that so much club tennis is played as doubles. I like to attack from the baseline, changing angles to get my opponent running. If I can, I will step forward and take the ball early. I have a double handed backhand that I practised a lot in my youth (inspired by Agassi). I like to mix some slice in occasionally to surprise my opponent. I think tennis is all about producing something your opponent doesn’t expect.
Playing and beating Mark is always a highlight! In the last Cardiff league, pretty much every match I played was a real battle with deuces, tie breaks and three-setters. As far as goals achieved goes, just surviving and sometimes winning a tight match is enough. I tend to be quite inconsistent most of the time, but I’ve had a couple of spells in matches, where I really felt I was in the zone. Last year playing against Ken East and just recently against Stuart McClelland were 2 matches where I felt it really clicked. All my matches have been competitive but played with a tremendous friendly spirit.
Taking part in the league has seen my love of tennis return when I thought my playing days might be over. I really enjoy playing against different people and trying to work out their strengths and weaknesses. That’s something new to me as I used to only play against Mark. I also really like trying out different surfaces. I’ve played on concrete, AstroTurf, fake clay and indoors through the leagues. Also, it gets me out and exercising!
I would have no doubt in recommending the league. I have already introduced another old mate and he’s making a return after several years away too. It really suits a lot of people as you can fit games into your schedule and it’s not too much of a commitment. Keep up the good work!
Want to join Paul and friends on court in Cardiff? The next round kicks off on 25th October and you can join here.