Try different version of tennis at leisure centre

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IT’S tennis – but not as we normally know it!

A new club has been set up in Morpeth to give people the chance to play a different version of the sport that is increasing in popularity.

Touchtennis is played with high-density sponge balls and 21-inch rackets on a badminton-size court – very similar to Mini Red tennis for ages eight and under – but this game is for adults.

The scoring is like normal tennis, with three short sets up to four games. Underarm or overarm serves can be used and singles and doubles can be played.

The new venture from Morpeth Tennis Club starts on Saturday, March 9, between 3pm and 4pm, at the Riverside Leisure Centre in Newmarket. Entry will be on a first come, first served basis, with a maximum of 16 for the full course (six sessions in total).

Pippa Hawes, Morpeth Tennis Club Chairman and Head Coach, said: “I first saw touchtennis last year when I was on a course with the LTA, which was about promoting alternatives to full court tennis.

“As part of the course, we were asked to play it so that we could get more of a feel for the game and I thought it was brilliant and so different from the full court game.

“It is easier to play, but with it being on a small court, the margin for error was much reduced and you had to think strategy all the time. So someone who you would not have a chance of beating on a full court was on an almost level playing field.

“Reaction skills improve radically and the knock-on effect for full court players is that net play and strategy improves.

“You only get one serve, which is a real leveller as you don’t tend to hit it really hard, but aim to get the ball in the service box with spin or slice, rather than overwhelming your opponent with power. The rallies tend to be quite long as each player tries to make their opponent make an error.

“There is a no let rule, so if the serve hits the net and lands in the service box it is deemed live and the receiver must continue play. Grunting is recommended as it distracts your opponent, but once the ball toss is up, you must hit it and play the serve.

“We decided to start a touchtennis club because anyone can play, even if they have little or no tennis experience. Anyone from the age of 16 to 86 is welcome.

“If the initial sessions are successful, we will continue to run the club and once the nice weather gets here, we may take it up to Morpeth Tennis Club in Longhirst Hall.”

The first session is free and the following sessions are £4 each, payable in advance. The others take place on March 16, 23 and 30, and April 6 and 13 – a fun tournament will be held during the final session.

All equipment will be provided, with the opportunity to purchase your own racket.

Anyone interested must book the first session in advance by calling 078018 37182 or emailing pippajane@btinternet.com

Use the same contact details if you are interested in playing full court tennis, or finding out more about coaching for young players. You can also visit www.morpethtennisclub.co.uk