What You Need: Tennis

Summer is upon us and much like sitting on your couch on a bright sunny day, having to lug yourself into the gym seems to defeat the purpose of the season.  We need to get up and get out!  So why not try a new sport or activity?  One of my favorites is tennis.  I started playing in high school and keep a regular game with a buddy every week.  Well, we try and make it every week!   What is great about tennis for newbies or devotees is the availability of public courts and the relative small cost to get started.  Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to begin your volley career.

Rackets: This is the big one, obviously, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.  In fact, I was at a Sport Chalet store the other day and even the highest priced racket on their shelf was still a pretty reasonable $150!  If you want to drop a $100 you can get an amazing racket, but the quality of material and manufacture these days filters down all the way to the $30 models, so the feel is what matters most.  For your first racket, don’t buy online unless you’ve felt the same model in your hand and don’t think more money equals better for you.  Do some research on head size and string tension (the Prince Tennis site is amazing for this) and hit away.

Balls: This is one area where I know people have their opinions about brands and how new they are and all that, but you know what?  Just get yourself two or three cans at a price you’re comfortable with and go hit ‘em!!

Shoes: Now we get into the flare of the game.  Like rackets, price varies tremendously.  I’m currently using a pair of Wilson tennis shoes I got on sale for $30 and they’re perfect.  Whether you love Adidas, Reebok, LaCoste, K-Swiss, Asics, New Balance, or Nike, there is a style for you with as much or as little style as you desire.  Classic white to neon green!  Again, like rackets, avoid the online unless you know how, say, an Adidas fits your foot.  If you’re feet are unhappy, you’re game will be unhappy.  Chances are you have something already you can use to start, but a dedicated pair is smart when you get more into the game.

Clothes: Since we just got shoes, let’s talk socks.  They might seem silly hanging there next to the shoes at $7 or $8 a pair, but specialized athletic socks are lighter, more comfortable, and breathe better than your Costco bulk variety.  I like Under Armour, but Nike makes some great athletic socks as well.  Shorts are whatever you feel good running around in.  I like a nice long pair of basketball shorts for example and can usually get a pair on sale in the $20-$25 dollar range.  Shirts can be fancy collared tennis shirts (you can look pretty sharp in a Fred Perry for around $70) or a beat up Old Navy $5 tee.  Comfort is key, but I do suggest investing in a couple lightweight, breathable shirts that boast of “sweat wicking” technology.  Top it all off with a pair of sunglasses ($10 to $100) for sunny days and a visor (around $20), maybe some sweat bands ($8) and you’re set to serve!

Bag: You’ve seen them at Wimbeldon, those giant bags filled with free tennis rackets from Serena Williams sponsor.  Do you need one?  Not really, a good cover for your racket and a Trader Joe’s reusable grocery bag is enough, but who wants to show up to the courts like that?  You can get a “hold it all” solution for your racket(s), shoes, balls, water bottles etc. for under $100 depending on the brand you go with.  Mine was $45 and holds up to 3 rackets plus!  Oh, and throw a towel in there!

Training: Lessons or no lessons?  That comes down to money.  If you have a natural athletic ability and a buddy who plays, you can learn the game pretty well with nothing more than buying said friend the occasional post game lunch.  If you want to really nail that serve (the hardest part of the game in my opinion) or are aiming to enter a tournament, then you’ll need to pay a pro.  Whatever it takes to have fun and enjoy yourself is the rule of thumb.

Look at that, for $200 – $250 bucks you can be completely outfitted for the tennis courts!  You can’t even get a good set of golf clubs for that, or a driver!  For more information, poke around the web.  Tennis.com has a great gear section or even hit up the website of your local sporting good store.  Tennis, like golf, has a huge base of participants and plenty of information and answers are out there.  Whether you’re a beginner, novice, or expert, most importantly, don’t get too caught up in the equipment, just get out and play!!


What You Need: Tennis — 48 Comments