Seeing an adult tennis player isn’t unusual. They aren’t quite the same unicorns as adult roller derby-ers.
But if you’re an adult who wants to play tennis for the first time, you might not know how or where to start. PlayYourCourt can help.
Maybe you played tennis in the past, are a bit rusty, and want to get back into the full swing of the game (see what I did there?) but don’t know how to go about finding a practice partner. PlayYourCourt can help there, too.
Or maybe you’re a regular tennis player who moved to a new town and want to set up matches, but you don’t necessarily want to join a club. PlayYourCourt to the rescue!
Read on to learn some tennis tips and an innovative way to find a tennis partner, get lessons served to you at your home court, and access instructional videos online. (Hint: It’s PlayYourCourt).
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A New Way for Adults to Play Tennis
I recently talked with Scott Baxter, an Elite Certified Tennis Professional with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and CEO of PlayYourCourt, a company he launched to make tennis more accessible for all skill levels.
PlayYourCourt is sort of like a tennis matchmaking service, but the only love involved is the one in your tennis score. PlayYourCourt matches you with equal skill-level adult tennis players in your area, sends instructors to your court of choice for lessons, and regularly posts helpful instructional videos to improve your tennis game.
As an adult tennis player in the loosest form of the word, the idea of PlayYourCourt intrigues me. Here’s why.
My tennis playing history is very casual. I used to play with a friend of mine who is equal in experience (or lack thereof) to me. She moved away, and I stopped playing tennis. Well, except for that one time I played with a friend who is an experienced tennis player. It was embarrassing for me and frustrating for her. I haven’t touched my racquet since.
While I enjoy playing tennis, I enjoy it with someone at an equal level to me. And I’m not to the point where I want to join an actual tennis club. By signing up for PlayYourCourt, all I need to do is enter my skill level and my city, and the app instantaneously finds potential tennis partners in my area.
Maybe you want to brush up on your tennis skills before actually playing a match with a partner. PlayYourCourt covers you there, too. They have a very large database of skilled tennis instructors they can send to you. Think of it as similar to a rideshare app. You have a tennis court in mind, you hit up the PlayYourCourt app and find an instructor to come to your court at a time and date you choose. Pretty cool, right?
You might be thinking, “I’m an adult tennis player who plays at a pretty high level. Will this app work for me?” Yes. That’s the beauty of PlayYourCourt. PlayYourCourt matches you with players up to 5.0 on the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP).
The Story Behind PlayYourCourt Tennis
Like many good ideas, PlayYourCourt was born because Scott Baxter saw a gap in the tennis community. He was an instructor at a high-end tennis club but realized not everyone could afford the high price tag of a tennis club. Add lessons into the mix, and much of the general tennis community would be priced out.
While teaching at an exclusive tennis club in the Washington, DC area, Baxter recalls, “Every day I had members come in and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got friends who want to take tennis lessons. They don’t want to pay for the $100,000 initiation fee, and they don’t want to wait on the seven-year waiting list it takes to get into the club. Do you have any suggestions as to where they can go to get lessons?”
The lightbulb went off in Baxter’s head. “I said, man, I should start teaching some of these people on my days off. So I did that, and it became way more popular than I ever thought possible,” says Baxter.
Once word got out about Baxter’s newly minted service, demand quickly outpaced the supply of Baxter’s one-man show. This is where Baxter’s business mindset stepped in. He enlisted the help of several other tennis instructors and launched the first version of PlayYourCourt.
At first, PlayYourCourt was only a mobile tennis instruction service. While people loved the service, the same question from its members kept popping up, says Baxter.
“We had a lot of customers say, ‘We love the lesson service, but how are we supposed to meet someone to actually practice with [if we don’t belong to a tennis club]?’”
That’s when the next lightbulb went off in Baxter’s head. He realized they had a database of instructors, but also a now significant database of tennis players, too. So he rolled out the next iteration of PlayYourCourt, which was a membership-based community of tennis players to match up with each other. In addition, Baxter added instructional videos that offered beginner to advanced tips for members.
PlayYourCourt now covers lessons, practice partners, match partners, and a league play component. Their latest value add is an e-commerce platform that will offer members discounts on tennis gear.
“We’re really trying to be the one-stop shop for everything tennis-related you might need,” explains Baxter.
For some context into PlayYourCourt’s network, they currently have about 2,700 instructors and 28,000 player members. So unless you live out in the boondocks, you should be able to match up with an instructor or player in your area. Obviously, the larger your city, the more options you are likely to have.
PlayYourCourt’s Step-By-Step Process
The real emphasis of what makes PlayYourCourt unique is that it’s a community. Baxter notes the fact that what makes pickleball appealing to a lot of new players is the community that surrounds it.
“We kind of think a lot of what makes pickleball successful is missing from tennis, and we’re building a community that encapsulates that [community]. Our joke internally is, “Have you tried tennis? It’s the new pickleball.”
Speaking of pickleball, Baxter said there have been internal discussions about extending the capabilities of the PlayYourCourt app to other sports, like pickleball. It seems like a natural fit.
Tips for Adult Tennis Players from a Tennis Expert
How to Start Playing Tennis as an Adult
Baxter offers some pretty simple advice for someone who’s curious about learning to play tennis as an adult.
“I think a lot of people think the first step is lessons, and I would love that to be your first step because I sell tennis lessons. But I don’t think it’s a necessity,” admits Baxter.
He continues, “There’s this stigma that comes with tennis that it’s scary, it’s intimidating, it’s expensive to get started. What I would say is that none of that has to be true. You don’t have to aspire to be the best tennis player in the world. You can go to Walmart and buy a crappy racket and get on the tennis court with your friends and spend less than $20 to see if you have a good time or not. Then if you are [having a good time], start to explore more of a serious racket, more of a serious experience.”
Baxter clarifies a common misconception surrounding tennis. “It’s not as expensive as you think to try it, so give it a shot.”
A great way to start or continue your tennis journey is simply by watching videos. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced tennis player, there is a lot of instruction available at absolutely zero cost to you. PlayYourCourt has a YouTube channel with videos, but there are a ton of other instructional videos on YouTube from other sources as well.
While Baxter is a huge proponent of instructional videos, he does ask viewers to heed one piece of advice.
“Generic instruction is not useful unless it’s applicable to your skill level,” says Baxter. “We talk about this with our coaches, and we talk about it with our video instruction.”
PlayYourCourt’s videos clearly state what skill level they are targeting. “I’m not going to give the same coaching advice to a beginner as I would to a Divison 1 college athlete. Make sure the instruction you are consuming is appropriate for your skill level.”
How to Prevent and Treat Injuries in Adult Tennis Players
Keeping your body healthy is the best thing you can do for performance in tennis. Baxter says focusing on flexibility and recovery should be at the top of any tennis player’s list, regardless of age.
“Stretching is a big deal. Flexibility plays a huge role in how successful you are in tennis and whether it hurts when you’re done or not,” says Baxter. Another big deal? Recovery.
He says, “Recovery is a big deal, no matter how old you are. I think the best things you can purchase are a Theragun and an ice bag for your knees.”
And Baxter’s advice for players who might be past their prime but don’t need to hang up their rackets? “Doubles play. It’s a necessary evil once your body slows down or has chronic issues like knee or back pain.”
Tips on How to Select the Right Tennis Racket
The most important piece of equipment you’ll use as a tennis player is your racket.
Baxter’s recommendation for the best racket after you’ve graduated from your $20 Walmart starter racket?
“I’m extremely biased because I’ve always preferred Wilson racket sports products over really anything else, and I’m not just saying that because we have a partnership with them!”
Baxter continues, “It’s actually kind of the opposite of that. [PlayYourCourt has] has gotten to a level where I can actually seek out who I want to be partners with. I’ve been playing with a Wilson racket since I was eight years old.”
Besides the brand of tennis racket you choose, within the brand there are also other considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right tennis racket for your body and level of experience.
Says Baxter, “I’m 210 pounds and 6’3. I’m going to play with a different racket than someone who’s 155 pounds and 5’8. Skill level plays a big role.”
“As a general rule, it seems the better you get, the more weight you’ll want in the handle of your racket because you understand how to generate power with your body,” Baxter continues. “If you’re more novice and don’t really know how to generate power from your legs or your core, you’re going to want a racket that’s got a little more weight in the head because that’s going to give you more power.”
Proper weight distribution in your racket is important, and where that weight should be distributed is different depending on your skill level because of where you generate power.
For more in-depth information on how to choose a tennis racket, Wilson gives detail on their website. If you prefer watching a video to reading, PlayYourCourt has a YouTube video titled “How to Choose a Tennis Racket.”
How Do I Sign Up With PlayYourCourt and How Much Does It Cost?
PlayYourCourt offers a free seven-day trial (I am an affiliate of the program). This gives you full access to their training videos, partner matching, and instructors. Beyond the seven-day trial, membership is $7.99 per month.
If you book a lesson with an instructor, that service is extra. Instructors are independent contractors, so their rates will vary.
You can also visit the Adults Play Sports directory to search for other tennis options in your area or for any other adult sports near you.
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