11 July

For the love of competition

Owen Lee

In a year, Owen has moved from group six in the Haringey League to the top group - and won it. His top tip: serving practice and consistency, plus a little help from a ball machine

Tennis has always been my favourite sport, but I grew up playing table tennis and cricket for the county so never had time to commit to the sport.  Moving to Finsbury Park last year I saw some group coaching available and thought I could finally get the chance to play the sport I love the most.

I like the one-on-one battle in tennis. I think the short length of each game creates mental pressures like no other sport, and tennis has a wider variety of shots than other racket sports (I also play badminton and squash competitively for comparison). That creates such complexity and variety to the game.

After 4 months of just having coaching I thought I was ready to play more competitively.  Having grown up playing table tennis tournaments almost every week I love competition, the different pressures and challenges it brings, and what you can learn from matches regardless of win or loss.  It's been nice progressing up the leagues and facing new challenges as I gradually improve.

I do a lot of service practice so luckily that wins me a lot of free points. Apart from that I play with a fairly heavy topspin forehand and a flatter backhand.  I approach the net a lot as having years of squash practice as a base, my volleys are the strongest part of my game - though I can be liable to dump an overhead in the net!

Recently vocal chord surgery annoyingly put me out of action for almost a month, but I'm finally back in business!  Hooray! I’ve mainly been doing service practice so far as I’m not meant to grunt but I had a fairly gentle match yesterday and I’m hopefully going to ramp up training a bit with a ball machine over the next few days. Being in the league has been hugely beneficial for my game.  

My first competitive tennis win was great; I was so nervous beforehand! Starting in group 6 when I started playing tennis last year, and seeing that I'd won the top league last month was really cool too - though only due to matches played so still room for improvement! Playing different styles has made me understand my natural game more, as well as figuring out my strengths and weaknesses to work on.  My tip?  Consistency will win you more points than hitting it hard (I just wish I practised what I preach!).

I would absolutely recommend the league.  It's great if you just want to have some fun and friendly matches or if you want to improve your game - and it can be both!  The league has introduced me to some lovely people and great players and given my tennis more focus and goals for improvement that I wouldn't have had otherwise.  Thanks Local Tennis Leagues!"

The next round of the Haringey Tennis League begins on 19 September. To join click here
Owen won our social media contest to win HEAD's newest racket - see his entry here