30 September

Tennis In A Pandemic

Fiona Rose

"This inspired me to take the leap. The idea of competing terrified and excited me at the same time. I felt anxious that I wasn’t good enough to compete."

 

In autumn 2019, I attended my first tennis lesson with my former coach, Manni, at the West Worthing Club. Manni was extremely charismatic, fun and witty. His wonderful personality and enthusiasm for tennis reeled me in and after two sessions I was hooked. Sadly, after Christmas, he took a position in London and relocated which I was quite sad about.

I thought about giving it up then but the club quickly assigned a new coach to train me. I remember thinking Manni would be a hard act to follow but my coach Matt was like a big ball of fire and light. He had so much enthusiasm and positive energy, it blew my mind. Matt’s approach was different to what I was used to but his coaching style produced results quickly. His focus, drive and determination gave me so much confidence and enhanced my game. I’ve had so many coaches in the past when I was a competitive swimmer and I knew I needed a real connection if this was going to work. His positivity, creativity and energy was contagious. It was then I decided I didn’t just want to learn, I wanted to compete and win.

After several restrictive sessions during lockdown, Matt encouraged me to step out and try out the league games. His encouragement and support during the pandemic never faded. I’m in awe of how he was able to stay so positive with everything going on. This inspired me to take the leap. The idea of competing terrified and excited me at the same time. I felt anxious that I wasn’t good enough to compete.

I played my first mixed league match and lost 6-4, 6-3 but despite the result, I found my confidence received a boost. The match was friendly and fun. My opponent was jovial and pleasant and he really put me at ease. I found myself raring to go at the next match. I would definitely encourage more women to compete. It’s not as scary as you’d think.

Throughout my 12 month journey, I’ve met some amazing people and had a lot of fun. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I’m thankful I’ve got a coach who is always there to offer support and guidance when things go wrong. I can’t wait for the next chapter of this journey to unfold.

 

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