What the tennis community learnt in lockdown?

23/01/2021

| News

For many, the last year of restrictions and nationwide lockdowns has been an extremely difficult and testing experience, but with these great challenges, you could argue that we’ve learnt more about ourselves and others than ever before.

We caught up with a range of tennis players, coaches and volunteers from across Britain to see what they have learnt through lockdown and how this can benefit their lives in the future. Here are their Lockdown Lessons.

Iraja Nigam, 10-year-old tennis player from Dorset

  1. Appreciate your friends and family around you
  2. Don’t take anything in your life for granted and make the most of it every day
  3. Try to connect with more people from around the world

Bright young tennis talent Iraja has a love and passion for the game which has seen her become part of the LTA Player Pathway, but the lockdowns over the past year have limited her time on court. For Iraja, this time away from the game has given her an opportunity to reflect on the importance having her loved ones around.

“I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted,” she says. “I realised how to appreciate the simple pleasures in life and importance of my family and friends.”

During lockdowns, Iraja has found great comfort in staying in touch with people going through similar experiences and has had a new friend at home to help her on the way.

“Connecting with many amazing people via social media, making new friends around the world and participating in online challenges has definitely helped to keep the motivation levels up.

“The most exciting thing was getting a puppy just before the first lockdown and I absolutely love playing with her at every possible opportunity.”

Iraja leaves us with some excellent words of wisdom on the importance of keeping a positive mind-set.

“Always remember ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do’ – count your blessings and make most of what you got.”

David Polayah, tennis coach and father of three from South London

  1. Learn to appreciate and reap the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise
  2. Spend time with the kids discovering new and exciting activities at home
  3. Find ways to help and support others around you

Before lockdown, David had put a successful career in creative marketing on hold to pursue his dream of working in tennis. With a new career and passion to focus on, David has learnt to fully embrace the benefits exercise and how to master his motivation.

“It feels like we’ve all been on a roller-coaster with so much uncertainty, it’s definitely taken its toll on me physically and mentally,” he says.

“So I found that doing any form of exercise is super important - motivation is the hard part! But once you get going, the endorphins are fired up and you instantly feel better.”

For many across the nation, supporting the kids at home has presented unique challenges in the last year, but David has found creative ways to keep his children on their toes.

“As a father of three, by far the biggest challenge has been keeping the kids entertained, home learning and off devices,” he says.

“I’ve got them out for exercising in local parks, baking cakes, creating art, movies nights, and making home learning as painless as possible for everyone's sanity!” 

Helping others has been a common theme for David’s lockdown experience as he’s found other ways to give back to the community.

“Since the first lockdown I’ve been volunteering as a NHS responder, so I can support people shielding in isolation,” says David.

“I thought the people I’d be helping would really appreciate the support, but I found it massively helpful to me, knowing I was doing my part - even if it was just speaking to someone on the phone helping them through these tough times.”

Jess Hart, 14-year-old tennis player and social media star from Newcastle

  1. The benefits of establishing a new daily routine
  2. Find new ways to engage in your passions, such as playing tennis at home
  3. Spend regular time outdoors and be creative in everything you do

Renowned for her tricks and skills on social media, young tennis player Jess, has had to adapt to missing out on her regular routine.

“The hardest thing was definitely losing my usual routine around school and tennis and having to create a new one at home,” says Jess.

“I have really had to stay self-motivated to still do my fitness and tennis while we are limited to only our house and garden.”

Harnessing her creativity and determination to follow her passions, Jess has turned to some household objects to get her tennis fix at home.

“My brother and I hung an old duvet cover on our washing line and fed balls for each other to hit into the duvet cover. We’re also teaching my little sister to play tennis too, which has kept us busy!”

Jess’ biggest takeaway from her lockdown experience so far has been the importance of getting outside and breathing in that fresh air. While it can be easy to stay inside all day, you always need to make time to get out and be creative with how you use your time.

“My top tips for making the most of lockdown would be use what you have, get outside every day (rain or shine) and BE CREATIVE! It doesn’t matter what equipment you have or how much space you have you can still do what you love.”

Jake Southwick, tennis coach and content creator based in South London

  1. Find new creative outlets in what you’re doing at home
  2. Take part in a variety of different online challenges to stay motivated
  3. Always make sure you keep a healthy life balance and find time to relax

For coaches like Jake, lockdown has presented a unique opportunity to get creative and support the tennis community with bespoke at-home exercises and coordinating a unique challenge.

“I’ve been getting my tennis fix by putting together tennis fitness workouts and creating drills and coaching tips,” he says.

“I produced the VIRTUAL RALLY AROUND challenge video, which included shots of more than 150 people playing at home all over the world.”

Jake has taken his challenges beyond just tennis, finding new ways to compete and pushing himself to work on new projects.

“I chose to sign up for the ‘Find a Race’ solo distance running challenges to compete against other friends and family during lockdown,” says Jake.

“I’ve also just been spending more time with my sister, sharing fitness routines and working on new video projects together.

“Create a routine, try new things and exercise, but always make time for downtime so you can relax and stay in touch with family and friends.”

Dylan Gee, 25-year-old tennis coach and player from North London

  1. Try to keep your mind active and hold on to the positive things in your life
  2. Focus on what you can control in your day-to-day life
  3. Reach out and speak to people when times are good and bad

They say an active mind is a healthy mind and Dylan has certainly learnt to give himself focus and to concentrate on the things in his life that are under his control.

“I have tried to focus on the controllables in what I do day to day,” he says.

“I now better understand that the small things that I do every day will help me towards my bigger goals long term.”

“I’ve missed not being able to coach or to go out and socialise but I try to stay positive and keep my mind active! I’ve spent lots of time talking and FaceTiming friends online, I love to read and I always like to discover new things.”

That connection with other people has been of huge importance for Dylan and this time with family has been priceless.

“It’s really important to have someone to talk to when times are good or bad. I’m enjoying spending quality time with my family, in particularly, bonding with the new puppy.”

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