People come to tennis in all sorts of different ways. Some take the sport on from an early age at school or through their local tennis club, others pick it up socially playing on public tennis facilities with friends, and some get into the sport because of their own children.
For Richard Hemus, it was his seven-year-old who inspired him to start playing tennis and having found Solihull's local league so enjoyable, we decided to have a quick chat with the one-time group winner.
Over to you Richard!
'I started playing tennis in the first Solihull tennis league in September 2015 - before this I had only played for fun in the park with friends. My child who was 7 at the time had been playing tennis from the age of 5 and had started to play in tournaments. I wanted to show him that end result was not the all important element and it was just as important to enjoy tennis as a sport.
I heard about Local Tennis Leagues at an open day event at Shirley Park where I picked up a leaflet and thought it looked interesting as it was open to all abilities.
I've played in the league 6 times in Solihull and have had mixed fortunes over the 6 rounds! I finished top of group 2 in round 3 but in total I have won 8 matches and lost 19. The last league I played in was round 8 which was a really good league with all my matches being close and going to the full 3 sets with all players very evenly matched.
One of my favourite matches was in round 8 against William Davies I actually lost the match, I won the first set 6-3 and was 4-2 up in the second but went on to lose the second set on a tiebreak losing 7-4 and lost the last set 6-3. Although I lost the match overall, it was a great game of tennis with lots of long rallies and was played in great spirit.
The facilities for tennis are excellent in Solihull and there are plenty of opportunities to get on court with free access to good courts in Brueton Park or Shirley Park where I have played most of my matches. During the winter I've also played on the indoor courts at Tudor Grange and several times at my home club, Beechcroft Tennis Club in Hall Green.
I currently work as a Senior Data Analyst for Centrica which involves a lot of data programming and spending a large proportion of the day working on a laptop, but tennis still takes up quite a bit of my life! My child, who is now 10, plays 4 times a week so I'm often out supporting him with his tennis.
I haven't really got a particular style, I just try and get the ball back as often as I can and I prefer my forehand to my backhand. Over the last 3 years I have tried to work hard on improving all aspects of my game.
The best thing about local tennis leagues is the fact that you get to meet a wide range of players and people with different playing styles and abilities. The league gives you the opportunity to meet new people and play competitive tennis but still remains fun and friendly. I have found the people you play to be encouraging and supportive no matter what your ability.
The league has improved my game both technically but more importantly, tactically, as playing competitive tennis is really the only way you truly improve - it gives you something to baseline your performances against. Playing socially with your friends is fun, but it is better when you throw a little competitive edge in!
The matching up of people in the leagues is very good, so you get to play opponents appropriate to your standard. My advice to anyone who is thinking of signing up to the league would be just try it, there really is something for everyone from the beginner to club player.'
Thanks for chatting Rich!
With such a great tennis community, Solihull is an ideal location for our leagues to take-off!