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Seniors tennis players having fun on court at an inclusive session run by The Queen's Club Foundation

Seniors Tennis group getting active with inclusive sessions run by The Queen’s Club Foundation


Research shows that four million older adults in England do less than 30 minutes of activity a week, so are classed as inactive - this can lead to mobility and other physical problems, that can have long term health implications.

By taking part in regular gentle exercise, many of these problems can be addressed. Tennis is one of the most adaptable sports there is, which means anyone can play. With a grant from the LTA Tennis Foundation, The Queen's Club Foundation are working to address these levels of inactivity in older people.  

The team have developed and started delivery of a Seniors Tennis group, which has been designed to support local seniors get active and help combat loneliness. The sessions are inclusive for any ability, for those living with Dementia and their carers.

Fun, inclusive tennis sessions

The sessions start with a gentle warm up to get everyone moving slowly, making any adaptations to the exercises to ensure everyone is included. A big favourite with the participants is the balloon game – everyone sits in a circle and has to keep a balloon moving around the group by tapping it gently to one another. As well as getting the body warmed up ready to be active, it is also designed to get the group interacting with each other and to get the mind working.

Some of it is about the physical benefit, but I find the social, and mental side is probably the biggest benefit.

Dan, who has been attending the sessions for a while now said, “They have exercises at the beginning which test your memory – for example you have to say a capital city when you hit the balloon, and you can't repeat them as you go around the group, it’s a bit like a game show!”

Joe, the coach who delivers these sessions said: “For me, with this group it is about getting them talking. Some of it is about the physical benefit, but I find the social, and mental side is probably the biggest benefit.”

Meet Pauline and Vito


We want to tell you a bit more about a couple whose lives have been hugely impacted by this programme.  

They are married, Vito is living with Alzheimer's and Pauline is his primary carer. Pauline is always looking for activities for them to attend, but has found a lack of opportunities, especially active or sporting ones. So, when the Seniors Tennis session started in a park local to them, she was keen for her and Vito to try them out.

Neither had played tennis since school but wanted to give the sessions a go as they had been told they were inclusive for people living with Alzheimer's. Originally Pauline only went as she thought it would be good for her husband, but now he really enjoys the sessions and looks forward to them.

When asked what her husband most enjoys about the sessions, Pauline said: “He really enjoys talking to people, he was a Barber, so he is used to talking to people all day. It can be very isolating when someone has Alzheimer's, so he doesn't tend to interact with a lot of people, so he likes to chat a lot when we are here!”

An unexpected impact

The sessions have also had a positive impact for Pauline which she hadn’t anticipated. There is another couple who are part of the group in a similar situation to her and her husband. As they got to know each other better, they swapped contact details and have become an invaluable support for one another in what can be a very isolating situation.


It can be very isolating when someone has Alzheimer's, so he doesn't tend to interact with a lot of people, so he likes to chat a lot when we are here!

The sessions have had a very positive impact for Vito, Pauline says “He definitely looks forward to coming to the sessions, and afterwards he’s in a much better mood. When he’s doing something and having to engage his brain, it helps, and as I said, he loves to chat, and when it is the just the two of us at home, it can be quite intense, but you know, we come here and he chats to everyone, which also gives me a break.”

Kate Maurici, Head of The Queen's Club Foundation was the driving force behind developing these sessions. She knew there was a real need for a programme like this, after she experienced coaching a player regularly with Parkinson’s Dementia. Kate recognised that the benefit was not only for older people, and those living with Dementia, but for their carers as well.

Kate said: “If you are living with someone with a particular condition it can be just as isolating for them. So, the sessions are also a chance for them (the carer) to have some respite and meet other people who are caring for others. We had a mince pie social at Christmas, which was lovely, and I noticed during that, some of the carers chatting to each other and sharing stories about how difficult it can be look after their partners – so I think there is a real social and emotional benefit as well as the physical benefits that tennis brings.”

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