13 June

Keep calm and do a drop shot

Mark Fleming

Tennis was always in Mark's family but he had got out of the way of playing until about 3 year ago. Then he joined his local league, has got fitter, improved his game, lost weight, made new friends - and won his group in the most recent round

My parents met at a tennis club (Shirley Park near Croydon), so my brother and I were enrolled as juniors and I loved playing all through my teens. I carried on into my 20s (squash also happened!) but all the people I played with then moved away from London, or simply got old. Then I became a dad and played less often.

I saw the notices about the league on the courts and I knew I needed to be fitter than I was. Why not rekindle my tennis? So about three years ago I gave it a go.

I love the challenge of singles. I am sure I would love doubles, but I haven't got an obvious partner and getting the matches sorted between two people at a time is complicated enough!  As to my 'style', I definitely play a percentage game, keeping the rally going. The younger players (and I appear to be older than others in general) tend to try to push me off the back of the court, so I slow it down and do lots of drop-shots (which generally annoys my opponents). My drop-shot game was honed by playing with my son when he was younger and stood close to the net, so it was the only way to have a successful rally.

I have not had any great goals, apart from being fitter, which I am, losing some weight (yes) and improving my tennis (think so!).

One of the main things I  have got out of the leauge is that there is now a group of people I know who I never would have met otherwise and I love that. We don’t do any socialising off court, but it’s wonderful to see each other to play again after a while and see how things have changed. (Some are in very high groups and I have never seen them again!)

I would definitely encourage others to join the league. It is brilliantly organised so you have a group of players of your standard - group 5 or 6 for me – and almost all the matches (even if they look like a thrashing) are very close and competitive. We love deuce!

To join the next round of the Kennington & Brockwell Parks Tennis League which starts on 5 September, click here