Richard was first inspired to pick up a tennis racket watching Greg Rusedski. Having taken up the sport again in the army, on his return to Bedford, Greg was once again Richard's recruiting sergeant encouraging him to join the ranks of Local Tennis League players.. Now back in civvy street St Albans Richard relishes the chance the leagues give him to meet new players.
"As a kid, I played a bit of tennis and as a teen Greg Rusedski's '97 US Open run caught my imagination. I thought I perfected his serve with my Wilson Pro Staff and white Nike bandana, until I broke the lights in the house much to the delight of my Mom and my very short career was over at 14!
I got the bug back playing tennis in the military and was lucky enough to play the French Signals squad in Rennes. I moved to a camp near Bedford which had two nice tennis courts yet no one played tennis. Desperate to hit some balls I was looking for tennis in the area, when I came across the Local Tennis League in Bedford. I then saw the LTL video advert with Greg Rusedski.... great marketing!
Since leaving the military my local league is St Albans/Harpenden which is a really good standard. Each match and opponent is different and I love the battles on court. I love playing against better, hard hitting players. I don't mind losing against these players as long as I learn and find a way to get better next time. This has improved my game massively over the last few years. I probably win a few matches I am not supposed to by having a good defence with a good fitness level on court. My level has gone up as I've played more, just as the leagues I've been playing in have improved round by round in the St Albans & Harpenden league. There's a good group of players who seem to push each other and the quality of matches increases with each round.
Ten rounds ago, I won my last match to survive in Group 3 and most recently I came Runner Up in Group 1 which I was really pleased with. Sometimes it doesn't hurt losing against better players. As long as you take away the positives, you can only get better.
The league has some great characters and I have had many memorable matches in the recent leagues. I recommend the league all the time! When I first joined, I was in a group with a lady who had never picked up a racket before, saw the LTL advertisement walking her dog and wanted to get fit. On the other side, I've played a young lad who was the singles club champion at a fairly large club and wanted more singles matches. There are some quality players in these leagues. It doesn't matter what your level is, give it a go and I've had some great matches and laughs along the way."
Want to join Rich in the next round in St Albans & Harpenden? It starts on 25 July. Click here to join by Monday 22 July.