No matter who you are, how much money you have or what shape you’re in, anyone can get a great workout in by trying out tennis. While hard-hitting stars like Serena Williams and Rodger Federer make this sport look anything but easy, we’re here to tell you that all it takes to start reaping the benefits of tennis is a racket and the courage to step out on the court—it’s aces!
From cities to country clubs, tennis is a popular pastime for a few simple reasons. It’s a social sport that provides a whole-body workout athletes can play throughout their entire life. Despite the coordinated outfits and high-performance gear you may see on television, it’s not an expensive sport to pick up: all you really need are tennis balls and a racket, which could even be borrowed in a pinch.
Abby Podolsky, a senior marketing major at University of Miami, picked up her first tennis racket when she was just three years old and hasn’t put it down since. As a child, she played competitively, winning two state championships in high school and being ranked as the top female singles player in Delaware at one point in her career. These days, Podolsky doesn’t play for the big trophies; despite being scouted by colleges, she put her academic success over her athletic one. “I ended up choosing life over tennis,” she said. “I wanted to learn at a school that was at my level academically.” But tennis never really went away. “I want to play for the rest of my life,” Podolsky said. Today, she continues to rack up experience, but now as a summer camp coach, breaking out her gear whenever she gets a chance back home.
Tiffany Bittar, a sophomore psychology major, has a similar story, having played competitively in high school before coming to UM. Tennis, she said, is a humbling sport—it teaches one to work with a partner (if they’re playing doubles), and allows one to test themself. “It’s easy enough to pick up,” she said, “but hard to get good at.” Playing singles, she said, also inspires players to rely on and take responsibility for themselves. Because when you’re the only one out there, it’s hard to blame others for mistakes.
For beginners looking to step on the court for the first time, Podolsky’s advice is simple: Just get out there. While the sport can be played at a very high level, lots of players of all ages do it purely for fun. As a workout, Bittar said, tennis provides a little bit of everything—players run and sidestep to hit the ball, working all sorts of muscle groups as well as testing cardiovascular stamina. It can be as intense (or unintense) as the players make it—another reason the sport is popular amongst an older crowd.
“You probably can’t play football when you’re 60,” said Catalina Gonzalez, vice president of UM’s Club Tennis team and a sophomore health management and policy major. “But tennis is a lifelong sport.”
Gonzalez said anyone looking to play on campus is welcome in the club. Those with a competitive edge, she said, can try out for the competition team, which travels around Florida playing other schools. But for newbies or individuals looking to play for fun, she said the club’s recreational group is a great place to get started, make some friends and work on new skills.
Where to Play
Looking to get a few sets in? You don’t need a membership to a fancy club. Check out these free courts located near the University of Miami!
Neil Schiff Tennis Center
- 5821 San Amaro Dr. Coral Gables, FL 33146
- 90 Menores Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Saga Bay Park
- SW 205 ST & 80 Ave. Cutler Bay, FL 33189
- 6300 Miller Dr. Miami, FL 33155
words_kylea henseler. photo_tiana torkan. design_lindsay jayne.
This article was published in Distraction’s summer 2021 print issue.