Santa Tennis at Florence Park


SUNDAY 18TH December 1 PM

Our now-traditional (on the grounds that if you do it more than twice, it's a tradition), afternoon of Santa Tennis is swiftly approaching.

It's Social Play, but wearing Christmas accessories, so dig out that Santa hat or reindeer antlers and come on down to Florence Park on Sunday 18th December at 1pm.

Please do bring an edible treat to share and we will all warm up with a hot drink at San Remo cafe afterwards! Friends and family who aren't playing tennis are still all very welcome to join us for the post-tennis jollity - we will finish playing around 3pm. So even if tennis with frozen fingers is not for you, we can still get together for a small Oxford Parks Tennis seasonal celebration.

Please book your places for tennis as normal at Parks Tennis, or come along at 3pm, if it's just the mirth, merriment and mince pies you're after!

Treats for the tennis player

One of the great things about playing tennis, is that it's always easy for friends and family to know what kind of gift is going to hit the spot with you. No stocking of mine is ever complete without a shiny new tube of tennis balls and the promise of one of my family joining me on court to test them out!

But just in case your nearest and dearest might want to branch out, or if you think they might be in need of a subtle hint, here's the Parks Tennis Guide to some great tennis presents - enjoy!

Regular balls a bit too ordinary - how about some personalised ones?

 

A new grip always feels good to play with and these overgrips from Alien Pros come in really fun, funky designs. Free shipping too.

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Small, but mighty, a QLIPP tennis sensor would be an amazing gift. It clips on to your racket and when paired with your phone, gives you masses of data about your strokes. Speed, spin, sweet spot - you can monitor it all and pair it with video analysis to see how your forehand, backhand, volleys and serves are shaping up.

New tennis clothes are always a good option - there's so much to choose from, but how about proudly showing your allegiance to Oxford Parks Tennis with some of our own branded kit - lots of styles and colours to choose from, for men, women and children. It's delivered direct to you, so no hassle either!

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If you are more of a fair-weather sportsperson, you can always hunker down inside with a good book. Some tennis related titles to get you started:

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert
Double Fault by Lionel Shriver

Or prepare for next season with some fitness equipment - how about a skipping rope, or perhaps a foam roller for stretching out those post-tennis sore muscles.

Whatever Santa brings, we hope he also leaves some dry weather and the chance to get out on court and play tennis over the festive season!

 

Tennis helps you live longer!

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Well, we all knew that, right?  We’ve long known that tennis has all sorts of physical, social and mental benefits, but now it’s official!  Reporting in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, some clever people at Oxford University have conducted a study of the exercise habits of over 80,000 adults aged 30 and above across some 25 years, and concluded that racket sports (and tennis in particular) helps you live longer… yay!

So, as well as being lots of fun, as well as helping you socialise with people, as well as delivering cardiovascular benefits, as well as releasing endorphins that trigger positive feelings, tennis reduces our mortality rate at any given age by almost 50%.  That’s just the best not-so-new news we’ve heard all year.

Why don’t you read the full article for yourself, we’re heading out on court to hit some balls and enjoy life to the full…

A deep clean for Bury Knowle

The tennis courts at Bury Knowle Park in Headington are a hidden gem. Tucked away amongst the trees at the top of the hill, they provide a quiet spot for many local residents to enjoy their tennis. The setting is lovely, but the proximity of the trees to the courts does cause a few issues.

Luckily Oxford City Council are on hand with their big clean of the courts happening during the week of October 31st. They have already conducted a trial clean to decide on the best method and will be busy getting the courts back to their pristine best.

The courts will be out of action for the week commencing Monday October 31st - if you'd like to play tennis that week, we suggest booking a court at Alexandra Park or Florence Park as an alternative.

 

 

Davis Cup Legacy in action

Yesterday was an exciting day for tennis in Oxfordshire, as we were the stop for the Davis Cup Legacy Tour. Now seeing a trophy might not sound like too big a deal, but in this case, that couldn't be further from the truth. First, there is the scale of the thing - the cup part itself would make a pretty generous baby-bath, and that is without it's two tier plinth. I've never seen a trophy big enough to warrant two dedicated tour busses before! But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, was the scale of the effort put into the 'legacy in action' part of the day.

Well over 500 primary school children came down to The White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon, not only to see the cup and have their photos taken, but to get on court and play some tennis. Joe and Ali were lucky enough to be part of the small army of volunteers from all over the county, introducing children to tennis and making sure they had a great time. Evidently, this part of the proceedings really hit the spot as one small boy was overheard exclaiming "This is the best school trip I have ever been on - I love tennis!".

Students from Abingdon and Witney College were on hand, with sports students lending a hand as assistant coaches and media studies people making a film of the day, which I am really looking forward to seeing. 

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There is something very special about the atmosphere created, when people come together to celebrate the hard work and success of others, but also to channel all those positive feelings into reaching out and making improvements in their own communities and in this case, to introduce our sport to people who might otherwise not think tennis is for them.

Tennis is for everyone, and it's really really good fun.

How watching tennis on TV can improve your game

So, the French Open has just begun, and with it, the temptation to plonk my backside down on the sofa and commandeer the remote control for the next two weeks. I don't need much additional encouragement, but in case you do, have you ever thought about how watching the pros (even on TV) can help to improve your own game?

Here's the Parks Tennis guide to making the most of your sofa-opportunities by targeting exactly what to watch when you are busy watching the tennis on TV.

Footwork

Looking at the feet of a professional tennis player is like watching ballet. Notice how they get set up early to hit the ball and remain still and balanced through contact with the ball. Can you predict where they are going to hit a shot by looking at how they position their feet - open stance, closed stance, weight on the front foot to hit a slice?

Also, can you follow their style of movement to the ball? Are they using simple, sideways steps or crossover steps. Can you notice a drop step for more explosive movement to a wide ball or even a carioca step to remain balanced and penetrate the court on a sliced approach or a volley.

Think of the footwork drills you have practiced on court during coaching sessions and try to identify them during a match.

 

Court Position

Where on the court are the players standing to receive serve?

What point are they choosing to recover to after they hit a shot? Can you spot the different recovery positions when they hit cross-court or down-the-line?

When do they decide to approach the net and where do they position themselves when they do?

Technique

This one is a biggie. But it also pays to be realistic. I'd love to hit a single handed backhand like Stan Wawrinka, (it's sublime) but that's not going to happen in this lifetime.  Instead I look to watch a specific element that I am working on with my own strokes and see if I can isolate the pros doing it.

For me, this could be the perennial 'left hand across' on my forehand, to help me with my balance, tracking the incoming ball and improving my shoulder rotation. But for you it might be your split-step, or having a more compact backswing, really getting your contact point out in front, making sure your follow through is consistent or keeping your back straight and your head still. Actually, if truth be told, I could use some work on all those things.

But the point is this - choose one specific element that you are working on and watch like a hawk for that. Chances are, there is a great role model to be found on your TV screen.

Shot selection

Can you identify patterns of play and how a player is using them to target their opponent's weaknesses?

What shots are the 'go to' choice for a player to hit when they are in trouble?

What selections give them the opportunity to close the net? This week, in one of our coaching sessions we have been working on using a sliced backhand to approach the net for a volley. If you've been working on a pattern of play like this, can you identify it during a match?

One of the simplest situations to look at and notice, is when a player opts to run around their backhand. Where do they hit from when they do this? Do they choose to go inside-out or inside-in. Is the shot they hit a winner?

Who can resist a little game of 'what shot would I hit next' or to try and figure out what the highest percentage shot to go for in a break point situation might be.

Use your ears

Yes, you are probably listening to the commentary and there's plenty to learn from there, but also take a moment to crank up the volume and listen to the sound of the ball on the strings. Can you pick up the difference between the sound of a hard, flat serve (crisp and deep) and a sliced or kick serve (a longer, and more rat-a-tat sound).

Watch just one player

When you are looking to isolate movement or technique, try to forget about the ball and just watch a single player for a while. You can get even more specific and look at a single body part. Suggestions might be:

  • the non-dominant arm - so vital for balance
  • shoulders - see how relaxed they are and watch the rotation on serves and groundstrokes
  • head - that quality of stillness when the player contacts the ball and how steady the head is, even when the player is running
  • hips - how side on hips are for smashes and how good hip rotation lends power to groundstrokes
  • knees - as I've been told many times 'if you straighten your knees, you're dead' - too true. Watch the athletic position of the pros, with knees bent, throughout even the longest rallies. Feel your thighs burn in sympathy.

Watch the ball

Yes, I know it sounds obvious, but can you really focus on how the ball moves and what spin does to it. Can you spot the ball kicking up after the bounce when hit with heavy topspin, is it swinging out to the side after a sliced serve? Does the backspin on a perfect drop shot have the ball die or even move backwards? Now can you predict how the ball will move from watching how it is hit?

So grab that remote control, quick! It's not just idle watching of the box - you are really working on improving your game. And when you've absorbed what you can, get out and join us on court to see what difference it has made!

Happy tennis :)

From the local park to the world championships!

It's a little bit quieter than usual in the office this week, because our colleagues Jeff Hunter (Managing Director) and James Auckland (Director of Tennis) are away, representing GB at the World Seniors Championships in Umag, Croatia!

Jeff is playing in the 45 year old age category (ssh, don't tell him I told you) and his team have won their round robin group, beating Sweden and Austria.

Meanwhile, James (a mere spring chicken in the 35 year old category) and his team have also progressed to the knock-out stages, recording wins over Latvia and Switzerland.

Their training programme involved lots of basket drills in the park - practice makes perfect - fine tuning their technique, improving their fitness and playing competitive points too. 

It's great to be reminded that tennis is a sport for life where we can all learn new things and continuously improve our games, whatever our playing standard. The Tennis Oxford coaching programme is a great place to get some advice on improving, and you can challenge yourself by competing in the Oxford Local Tennis League!

Not sure if it was the lure of the scent of bacon on the breeze, or the fact that the cafe is right next to the tennis courts (we know he's partial to a set or two), but it was quite an exciting moment when the Prime Minister stopped by The Coffee Shed in Witney.

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It's not every Friday that happens! Though the warmth of the welcome is the same, whether you are the leader of the nation or not. Perhaps he'll bring his trainers with him next time....

Educating a new wave of tennis professionals

The Tennis Foundation's Tennis Pathways Conference is aimed at young people who are interested in finding out about the opportunities that tennis can offer them.

We are big believers in changing lives through tennis and Jeff, Emma and Stuart talked to the delegates about tennis careers, sharing the story of our evolution as a company. They also presented a couple of case studies, and the delegates were given the opportunity to discuss how they would solve some day-to-day issues that the team encounter.

We had a great day and really enjoyed meeting all of the students! 

A Saturday packed with tennis fun

The courts in Florence Park were packed this Saturday as the first Great British Tennis Weekend of the season kicked off. 

We had coaching for everyone - mini reds, juniors, and adults of all abilities as well as a spot of cardio tennis and some fun family and free play.

With the majority of players joining us for the first time, we hope to be seeing many new faces on the courts over the coming weeks. And there's plenty to join in with, as our summer programme has now launched, with more opportunities for tennis in the evenings as the days grow longer.