2 December 2019

Scoring a century!

Paul Whittenham

After 20 rounds in the Havant, Portsmouth singles and Portsmouth doubles leagues, Paul has just notched up his 100th match! Behind the stats are some great matches, long lasting friendships and help through a difficult time.

I started playing when I was 13 when I was advised to stop playing football after suffering a condition called Rheumatic Fever which left me with a slight heart murmur and was looking for an alternative sport.  I liked the competitive element of both the singles and doubles format and represented my school, played in local junior competitions and managed to win a couple of local doubles titles with a good friend of mine. 

My Dad, who always supported me by attending many of the sporting events in which I took part was sadly diagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away in January 2017. The month before that, I decided that I would return to singles competition after a 37-year break and entered the Havant Local Tennis League. I remember being very nervous in my first match and lost it on a final set tie-break. However I did manage to win the rest of my matches to win the Group before my Dad passed away which helped me through a very difficult time for me and my family and I would like to think gave him some comfort too. 

If you asked any of my opponents they might tell you that I play squash on a tennis court! I like to vary my serve, attack with my forehand and slice my backhand to keep the ball low. I would like to think that I have good tactical awareness and hit the ball to a reasonably consistent good length. I think being in the league has improved my game. Of course I am getting older and will be 60 next year but I am definitely fitter now and love the competitive element. I have won 3 singles and 2 doubles titles at The Avenue Lawn Tennis & Squash Club where I am a member and I’m sure that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.

I have now completed 100 singles matches in 3 years of playing Local Tennis Leagues and have managed to win over 70% of those which I would have not thought possible when I started. All the matches have been memorable for one reason or another but if I had to pick one it would be a match against a very tricky opponent which I won after being a set and 1-5 down and saved a match point.
I would most definitely recommend the league and not just because of the competition. I have met many new friends including one of my main rivals, Lee, and several others such as Ant, Robert, Charlie and Simon to name just a few.

The next round of the Havant Tennis League begins on 23 January, 2020. Join here by Monday 20 January