Anybody who has worn actual tennis shoes while playing tennis knows why they are a must-have clothing item – the must have item. However, if you’ve never played before, you might not know why it’s a bad idea to show up to your first lesson in, say, flip-flops, Crocs, or even running shoes. After all, a person is perfectly capable of running barefooted; why not play tennis in whatever is comfortable? When you schedule your first lesson you want to show up ready to play. Lessons aren’t cheap, right? Spend more time playing and less time fighting with your equipment and clothing. Here’s what you should have:
A Racquet: Duh, right? Hold on though because it’s not that simple. There are many kinds of racquets for many kinds of players. If, for instance, you are a parent who has signed her new-to-the-sport kid up for a first lesson you might not want to invest hundreds of dollars in a new racquet right away. At Gonzo Tennis we can help. Let us know ahead of time and we can equip your kid with a racquet that is the proper length and weight. If he likes the sport then you can go make the investment and we can give you pointers on what to look for when purchasing a new racquet. Tennis racquets come in different lengths and grip sizes (not to mention weights and stiffness). A child needs a shorter racquet with a smaller grip. Therefore, don’t lend your small child your own racquet for his first class as he won’t be able to swing it and grip it correctly. Again, let us know and we can help size your kid for a racquet.
If you are an adult looking for a new racquet for a first lesson we can help you, too. Again, call or e-mail us before your first lesson and we’ll bring some demos for you to try of various weights and stiffness.
Shoes: Tennis shoes are an absolute must on the tennis court. It isn’t a matter of fashion either. You’ve seen those signs on courts that tell you to wear non-scuffing shoes. This might lead you to the false conclusion that tennis shoes are simply a fashion statement or a way for clubs to keep courts scuff-mark free. The real reason that there are shoes specifically designed for tennis is the same reason you shouldn’t wear running shoes onto a basketball court unless you really want to twist your ankle. Running shoes, you’ll notice, are designed to rock back to forward; the soles are not flat, and they are narrow. Tennis shoes are very low profile, flat shoes providing more contact with the ground. They are designed for stop and go movements side to side. If you’ve ever tried running in a straight line for a mile wearing tennis shoes you will see how uncomfortable they are in that capacity. But, the same goes for wearing running shoes while playing tennis – very uncomfortable.
Clothing: This is where you get to be a fashionista if you so choose. You can subscribe to the Venus Williams or Andre Agassi approach to fashion which is to look crazy while being awesome. Or you may choose to be more traditional about it, white being the approved color of the Newport and Wimbledon clubs. Any way you want to dress is fine as long as you can move freely and not overheat on a hot day. Get creative! All this being said there is one design that your clothing must have. Men, wear shorts with pockets! Women, you are a complete mystery. I saw a lady last week who had nowhere to put the second tennis ball and her solution was to shove it down her sports bra! It was borderline comedy. Every time she needed a second serve, she reached down her bra and produced the ferreted away tennis ball! Why? Why not just wear shorts or a tennis skirt with an extra ball holding function!?
A Hat: For years Ivan Lendl wore a legionnaire’s hat when he played in the Australian Open. Sun protection is no joke on the tennis court. Have sun screen and a nice hat ready in your bag. I lament the fact that men tend to think a baseball hat is enough sun protection. I see women out on the courts practicing all the time in wide visors and proper, athletic sun hats. Why not men, too?
Water: Bring water, people! If you’re taking a private class with Gonzo or one of his instructors, you will most definitely need water. Running around for an hour, stopping and starting, turning, sprinting and twisting can be much more tiring than running a 5k (I would know as I’ve done a lot of both).