Tennis is a Lifelong Sport with Big Benefits, Especially Right Now

Even if you’re not sporty, read on. It’s never too late to start playing tennis (I began at age 40) and once you try it, chances are you’ll get hooked. Now, 17 years later, I deeply appreciate playing doubles tennis more than ever. Here’s why:

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on
  • It’s great exercise. I’ve never been a gym rat. A set of squats seems like pointless torture, but I’ll happily sprint for a short ball, pound an overhead with all my might and lunge for a wide serve. The goal of tennis is to hit the ball as best you can, not work out. Yes, it can leave you panting and exhausted from your efforts, but it engages the brain as much as the muscles which for me, is much more engaging than a half hour on the elliptical.
  • It’s a lifelong sport. I play tennis with women of all ages, some of whom are in their 70s and even 80s. These women are formidable opponents who often kick my butt. You know what? I love it when they do, because I look forward to doing the same to younger chicks 20 years from now.
  • There are stakes. Even the women who hit the court saying “let’s just have fun, ladies” want to win. Competition is fun and no two matches are alike. Winning is a thrill, but losing motivates me to develop my skills, fitness and mental game. I love the ongoing challenge and there are always ways to improve.
  • It’s social in a really good way. Playing with and against other women (and men) makes me appreciate them for qualities I’m not sure I’d discover outside of tennis—like sportsmanship, generosity, positivity, athleticism, grace and grit. On the court, we don’t talk about politics or jobs or kids, thank god, which is refreshing.
  • It’s socially distanced. With a little care, tennis is a sport that’s safe to play, especially outside. It has really saved me during this pandemic to be able to get outdoors for a couple hours, connect with other women and release stress in a positive way.

Here’s me playing in a competition at my Chicago club, the Lincoln Park Tennis Association. Look my intense focus! Our season ends this week, so most people are taking it indoors. I however, look forward to continuing my outdoor season in Florida. If YOU want to play tennis, go to the USTA website to find places you can get started. I bet you’ll “love” it too.

Marjie, ready to hit a punishing ground stroke.

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