As the tennis off season is now in full swing it is that time of year to do other things in life but as usual we reflect on the past season, the what if's, the missed opportunities, the glory ( if there was any ) and the improvement or inability to deliver. Tennis is like that, we always analyse, if we didn't we may be called a 'robot'.
My biggest question to the sport in my home town here in 'sleepy hollow' is this, 'Is it not cool to play tennis anymore' ?
The following examples are what makes me think just that......
I played a Doubles event in March and this is who we played.
Round 1- A combined age of approximately 60
Round 2- A combined age of perhaps 65
Round 3 - A combined age of 50 ( getting better )
Round 4- A combined age of 90 ( yes that is correct )
Round 5 - A combined age of 90 ( no that isn't a misprint )
Final Round - A combined age of around 80.
As far as our team was concerned, I am 48, my doubles partner Matt is 24, there's a few more years of tennis playing experience as well as old age all rolled into one. So let's break all of that down into simple terms.
There was around 500 years of combined age playing that event and quite possibly 350 years of tennis playing experience if each player picked up a racket at around ten years of age. That's an awful lot of experience in one tennis tournament but what is most ridiculous is the amount of guys who are actually 'allowed' to still be competitive at their current age.
I believe that there was in fact one teenager playing Mens A Grade, ONE, so why is this ?
I have often thought that tennis is a rather expensive sport to play due to equipment, coaching and travel, just to name a few issues that surround the sport yet is there more to it ?
Team sports seem to own the lions share of the numbers when it comes to popularity as far as the youth of today is concerned and tennis is nowhere near as popular as Soccer, AFL, Hockey, Basketball or even Cricket so if a kid decides to play tennis seriously is it not considered 'cool' by his or her mates ?
Are kids being pressured into playing team sports due to the nature of the mentality of youth and the desire to feel part of a team as opposed to the feeling of isolation of playing individual sport ? The numbers tell the story.
In the final event of the year locally here in 'sleepy hollow' it wasn't a whole lot better as far as ages were concerned though there was perhaps two or three more teenagers involved but the 'Dinosaurs' still made up the numbers.
In my event I actually only had to play three matches due to one team not fielding a singles player, I find that disheartening. I played two teenagers plus another 'Dinosaur' who told me that their club did not own any youth either. At 48 and 47 we were both the 'youngest' players available to play singles for our club.
So is it just here in my home town that struggles to find kids to play the sport of tennis ?
I believe that tennis is now an 'older' persons sport and it seems that there are some facts to back this statement up but it still does not help the sport to grow, no matter where you live or what standard you play.
If you are looking at heading to your local tennis club for the first time upon your retirement and put your experience into good use against the youth of the game, well you may be a little disappointed.
Here is an article that backs up the claim that tennis may in fact be a sport for the 'Dinosaurs'........