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More of us than ever are turning to tennis to get fit and have fun – especially women looking to ‘smash it like Konta’

Understandably, all the fuss around tennis for us Brits has centred on the amazing success of Andy Murray. But this year, the balance had shifted so it’s not just all about Murray Mania. We’ve also gone Konta Krazy too!

One thing that Johanna Konta’s on-court exploits have revealed is the ongoing gender divide that exists in tennis in the UK. All the attention has been on the men’s game, but moves are well underway to bring through a generation of women players inspired to pick up a racket and hit the courts. And we’re delighted to say that Birmingham is leading the way with its proud track record of helping to raise the profile of the women’s game.

LEADING ROLE

The city is playing a leading role in getting more women and girls – of all abilities – involved in tennis at the grassroots level, thanks to the Lawn Tennis Association initiative She Rallies launched in Birmingham by Andy Murray’s mum, Judy. The programme aims to coach the next generation of female coaches and attract and retain women and girls as active participants in tennis.

As Judy told us: “There is still a significant gap in terms of players and coaches at all levels of the women’s game. This has to change. She Rallies will create opportunities in tennis for women and girls from the grassroots through to international level.” Currently, only 23 per cent of qualified tennis coaches in the UK are women – an imbalance that Judy and the LTA are hoping to address by training regional ‘ambassadors’ who will provide free instruction and equipment to women from both tennis and non-tennis backgrounds, giving more girls the opportunity to play the sport locally.

HEALTH BOOST

Male or female, tennis is a great sport to improve your all-round health regardless of your level of ability. Latest research shows that playing tennis (or any racket sport) reduces the overall risk of death by nearly half. That’s nearly twice as effective as other sports such as cycling, aerobics or swimming.

Playing tennis has been found to increase aerobic capacities, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, improve metabolic function, increase bone density, lower body fat, improve muscle tone, strength and flexibility and increase reaction times.

A word of warning though! If you’re a tennis beginner, haven’t played in a while, or are taking up exercise after a long time of being inactive, please be sensible. Follow our top tips and you’ll have healthy, invigorating – and safe – fun!

TENNIS TIPS

  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand and rehydrate regularly.
  • Don’t overdo it. Mix up your physical activity with other low-impact sports.
  • Play at a level according to your age and physical condition.
  • Avoid playing with a pre-existing illness or injury. If in doubt, talk to a doctor.
  • Warm up your muscles and joints before hitting the court.
  • Be careful if the court conditions are wet and especially if the surface is slippery.
Edgbaston Priory runs a range of courses for all ages and all levels from beginners to those who used to play but have lapsed. Details: 0121 440 2492 www.edgbastonpriory.com . Find out more about the She Rallies programme www.sherallies.com