Robin hadn't played tennis for many years when he decided to give the Sheffield league a go back in 2014. Fastforward to now and he's competed in an incredible 22 consecutive rounds - so what's his advice for this longevity? Keep playing as long as your body lets you!
I've always enjoyed sport from a young age and while watching Sheffield Wednesday was my main passion, I also loved playing football and almost any ball game, especially cricket and tennis. When we got the luxury of a black and white television set at home I was able to start watching Wimbledon and became transfixed by games between great players such as Rod Laver, Manuel Santana, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall and so on, using white balls of course! They may not have been Wimbledon winners but who can forget that great match between Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell where the 41-year-old Pancho eventually won 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after being two sets to love down and saving 7 match points. A great lesson about when never to give in and keep trying!
For many years I hadn't played any tennis and apart from still having my original school days' racket and another wooden one I bought for a £1 at a jumble sale I was a bit out of touch. I had only had the sporadic game here and there, amusing people with my ancient wooden racket. Then a few years ago I thought it would be nice to play tennis again. But of course I had no-one to play with! I went on the internet and after some googling came across 'Local Tennis Leagues' which fortunately were operating in Sheffield and decided to give it a go.
I prefer to play singles so that I am a master of my own destiny and only have myself to blame when I play terrible tennis! I've never had any coaching so at least I can say my style is my own. My priority is simple of course - minimising the double faults and getting returns back over the net! I'm more of a baseline player than a serve and volleyer (not sure if I'm fit enough for doing that!), and I do like the odd vicious spin shot and also trying to lob those players who do come to the net!
My best match took place last year, a three setter that took over three hours which I eventually won on a tie break 7-5. I can say that almost without exception the opponents I play are friendly, polite and punctual; and with many it's often the case to have a general chat about what they do for work and other topics other than tennis which is always interesting. As for goals achieved, I'm quite happy just to be able to play and give people on the whole a reasonable game, win or lose. So my advice is to keep playing as long as your body lets you!
The league has been a great chance to get outside, play a game you really enjoy, meet new people, and a fun way of getting some exercise. It also means that for whatever reason if you don't have time or want to join a club you can arrange matches flexibly to suit your schedule and other commitments. I would absolutely encourage others to join. My advice is to check out if there's a Local Tennis League nearby and give it a go!
If you would like to join Robin on court in Sheffield, the next round kicks off on 9th May and you can join here.