Played my first game of competitive-ish tennis of the decade last night. The UK’s windy, wet and icy weather delayed the start of my club’s annual floodlit tennis tournament until the month’s fourth week. I should be thankful, I guess, that we haven’t got the climate problems in Australia where the season’s first big tennis tournament is underway in Melbourne.
I’ve been a member of my club for over 20 years and usually manage to play at least once a fortnight. I have a love-hate relationship with the game and this morning I’m hating all the loves I got in last night’s game. Like most clubs we play doubles and in this tournament we play six games with each player and count up the games we individually win.
Last night it was very close, nip and tuck, but I won eight games and lost 10 then lost a tiebreak to the other player who scored the same as me so I get relegated down to the next group.
I know it’s only a game but I feel faintly irritated at the loss this morning and remember the key mistakes I made. I also feel it too physically, there are a range of very distinctive aches and pains that I always wake up with after an evening of tennis, I think it’s something to do with what you do to your body when you serve.
Despite all this I do love the game really and there’s plenty of evidence that it’s a good game to love particularly as you get older,
A recent study has shown that regularly playing the game could add nearly 10 years onto your life and that it’s better for you than cycling, jogging or swimming – and experts think the social aspect of it plays a big part.
It’s well-known, of course, that people who exercise are likely to live longer, and the study of nearly 8,600 people in Copenhagen found social sports may have extra benefits.
Tennis players could live an average of 9.7 years longer than someone who does not exercise, badminton players 6.2 years and footballers almost five years. More solitary sports had less of an impact on people’s life expectancy – cyclists live an average of 3.7 years longer, swimmers 3.4 years and joggers just 3.2 years.
The researchers said that while raising the heart rate through exercise is important for longevity, connecting with other people is also vital.
These are incredible numbers really which show that forcing yourself out to play on a cold, wet winter’s evening is well worth the effort win or lose.