So you’ve decided to give tennis a try and you’ve invested in the core gear you’ll need to get started (see “Tennis 101”). Your next question may be, “How do I find people to play with?” Well, that’s a great question and the answer may not be as daunting as you think.
The first step is to identify tennis facilities located in your area. Simply visit your local business directory, lookup “tennis facilities”, and ask a few questions:
1. Is this an indoor or outdoor facility? This will help you dress appropriately for weather conditions (long-sleeves and jacket vs. tank top and shorts).
2. Is this a public ‘pay-to-play’ facility or is it a fee-based membership? If you’re just starting out and have no need for a full “club” membership (e.g. swimming, golf, aerobics/exercise), you may want to stick with public tennis facilities that allow you to pay for court time as you use it. However, if you believe a fee-based membership option will be beneficial to you and your family, feel free to try it out. Typically club memberships are granted on an annual basis but can be extremely pricey. For example, applications and even referrals are sometimes required for the more upscale facilities.
3. Do you have a tennis professional on staff? If the answer is “yes”, then more than likely the facility offers individual and group lessons, social round robin events and tournaments, and possibly even organized tennis leagues. Always ask to be sure.
4. Does the facility host tennis clinics for beginners? Many of the facilities will have group instructional lessons to teach the basic mechanics of the game. Tennis clinics are also a fun way to meet new people also just starting out. Be sure to ask about fees and payment options (e.g. cash, check, credit).
Tip: During the clinic, you may want to exchange numbers with someone you have an interest in “hitting with” on a regular basis. Consider scheduling a dedicated day and time slot that works for both of you. Note that most courts are reserved by the hour.
5. How many courts are available and are they lit? This will give you an idea of how big the facility is and how late in the day/evening you can play. This will be important as you build your tennis community and schedule time to play.
In addition to finding local tennis facilities in your area, you have other options as well. You can contact your local parks and recreation department to get a list of parks with tennis courts in your area (questions 3-5 from above will probably be the most relevant to ask). Local colleges and universities often have group tennis classes. And lastly, www.usta.com and www.tennisindustry.org are great resources for both the tennis novice and expert.
I wish you well on your new journey to find a tennis community that you love!