21 May 2020

In the shadow of Centre Court

Sven Oestmann

Wimbledon Park league regular Sven discusses the need to be aggressive, how he can't want for competitive tennis to re-start and the problem with playing your wife.

"I used to play a lot of team sport and loved the competition. Team sport has become logistically more difficult over the last years, so I switched to tennis and running. I started with tennis after my wife joined the local tennis league, which seemed like a lot of fun. 

Tennis is a great mix of competition, socialising and keeping fit. You can play tennis against people of a wide range of ages and people are generally friendly. There is nothing better than playing a match on a warm, sunny day. I play in the Wimbledon Park League, so we get some extra inspiration from Wimbledon Centre Court which you can see from the Wimbledon Park courts.

My wife saw a notice at the tennis courts and decided to join. I joined soon after, and we actually ended up playing in the same league at one point. We had a good match, but we both really wanted to win, so the walk back home after the match was rather frosty. 

Generally I'm quite a defensive player, doing a lot of running to return any ball I can get to.  However, I have recently realised that I need to play more aggressively to have a chance of beating the better players. I now force myself to hit more winning shots, even if they often end up long or in the net.

Has being in the league improved my game? 100% yes. It is competitive and upcoming matches are a great incentive for me to practise more and to improve my game. Without the league it would be hard to find different partners of similar standard every week and to play proper matches.    

Over time, I have managed to climb into the top half of the league groups, which I am happy about, and I would still like to move up further. I have had some really long matches, especially when I come up against other consistent defensive players. One match was a three-hour war of attrition, which went back and forth, and I somehow managed to win it in the end. Recently, I have tried to hit more aggressive serves and more top spin backhands, which is leading to more errors, but I am hoping my game will benefit from this over time.

Lockdown has been a challenge, although the family has actually coped quite well so far. I have been going on runs a lot. Things should get better now that tennis is back on. I have played twice since the lockdown measures have eased, and my game is pretty rusty. I can’t wait for the local league to start again. I would recommend it absolutely. It is a great way for players of all standards to play more regularly. The community of players is really friendly and the league is really well organised."

The next round of the Wimbledon Park singles starts on Thursday 4 June. Join here by Monday 1 June.