Find Your Lifelong Sport: Smashing Serves at the Tennis Court

Tennis gets you moving your whole body, while engaging your mind in strategic thinking.

Player Alivia Glenn at Philadelphia Tennis Club. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

Whether you’re playing doubles with friends at a public court or trying to emulate Serena Williams’s backhand at your neighborhood racquet club, the energy-exerting sprinting, rapid footwork and smashing serves of tennis offer much-needed catharsis.

Enthusiasts of all ages have a decreased risk of developing heart disease and are more likely to have a lower body-fat percentage and stronger bones, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Additionally, tennis promotes teamwork and sportsmanship while having the potential to extend your life by nearly 10 years, per a 2018 heart study conducted in Denmark.

What’s also attractive about tennis is that it’s adaptable. For younger players, the sport can be super-intense and provide a major adrenaline rush. Beauty writer Kari Molvar once argued in Vogue that tennis is the original cross-training workout for its emphasis on “quick, explosive movements, dynamic strength, endurance and agility.” On the other hand, aging players can reduce the speed of the game to accommodate their abilities while still getting benefits related to cardiovascular health, strategic thinking and overall energy, as reported by the Telegraph.

Every time you hit the court, Kenyatta Johnson — president of Philadelphia Tennis Club in Germantown — says the main things to remember are proper technique and movement, which you can learn from one of the many talented coaches in the region: “It’s not just about hitting the ball over the net. It’s learning how to hit it correctly and focusing on how the ball goes over the net.”

Johnson adds that the sport can be for anyone, no matter your income and background, mainly because a racquet, balls and general workout clothes are sufficient for a solid game or practice session. Philly offers a number of free tennis courts, so there’s always an opportunity to play.

Four places to learn tennis near Philadelphia

Penn Racquet Sports, University City
Best for: State-of-the-art facilities
Located right in University City, Penn Racquet Sports offers all-weather tennis courts. The outdoor ones boast amazing skyline views.

Philadelphia Tennis Club, Germantown
Best for: Feeling like you belong
Philadelphia Tennis Club is the oldest privately owned Black tennis club in the country. Kenyatta Johnson and other coaches have created an environment that makes tennis accessible to everyone — and it doesn’t cost a ton of money.

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, East Falls
Best for: Clinics and summer camps
Legacy offers private lessons as well as a summer camp and clinics. (While there are no adult camps, there are adult clinics.)

Tennis with Tyler, multiple locations across Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore
Best for: Making tennis approachable
There’s a reason Tyler Stroyek has over 86,000 Instagram followers: Not only is he a fun coach, but the former Division I tennis player breaks down swinging the racquet so that everyone can gain something. In the summer, he takes his skills to Sea Isle City for a kids’ summer camp.

Player spotlights

Tessa Hoyer: member, Trenton Country Club; New Hope, 29

Tessa Hoyer. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

“Tennis provides year-round cardio and much-needed mental clarity. Plus, it’s a great social sport! I can play with just about anyone, and age really isn’t a factor. You only focus on playing, which helps reset the mind from all other tasks.”

Malik Hall: Philadelphia Tennis Club instructor; Elkins Park, 41

Malik Hall. / Photograph by Steve Boyle

“Tennis is kind of like chess, since each opponent is different, which I really enjoy. My main advice for anyone looking to play: Learn proper technique to build your skills — that’s what will help you stick with it.”

Published as part of the “Find your Lifelong Sport” package in the Be Well Philly 2022 print issue.