John has been a regular in the Kennington & Brockwell Parks league for more than three years and recently finished as group champion in his 15th successive round. He explains how losing, as much as winning, keeps him coming back for more and how he earned a Centre Court selfie signed by a Wimbledon all-time great!
My older brother and sister both had old wooden tennis rackets and as the youngest looking up to them, I used to borrow their rackets to play on a local public court with friends. That started my passion for tennis.
Back in 2000 or 2001, with a friend of mine who was working on a photography project, we managed to talk our way on to Centre Court at Wimbledon when it wasn’t in use so he could take my picture there. Years later while my friend was running a gallery, we met Martina Navratilova and he arranged to have her sign the photo as a surprise for me!
I first heard about the league through an advertisement in a local park. It seemed like a great way to play more regularly and improve my game.
What I really like about singles is the challenge of it being just me against an opponent, so in a sense it’s all down to me. I do play some social doubles in a local park too and also really enjoy the camaraderie of having a partner. I would describe my style as hitting the ball as hard as I can from the baseline, and I love going for the lines. I am also trying to come to the net more.
Last summer I finally won a set against an opponent I have played a number of times. I did go on to lose the match, but it felt so good to win a set, especially against someone I always enjoy playing.
I have got so much out of the league! I’ve met some really nice people, it has helped to keep me fit and winning games and matches really gives me a sense of achievement. Losing just makes me want to try harder!
I would absolutely encourage others to join. For me it’s a no brainer! It’s good value, really well organised and loads of fun.
If you would like to join John on court In Kennington & Brockwell Parks you can find all the dates for the future rounds here.