By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(May 11, 2023) “Tennis is easy.”
That’s’ not just a slogan to Tim Johnson, the new OP Racquet Center director, who calls himself a low performance coach.
“If I can get 100 people picking up a racquet, that’s how I measure success,” Johnson said.
And that is his goal this May, which is National Tennis Month, promoted by the United States Tennis Association.
Johnson will be hosting a variety of events to get people on the courts.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. he will host “Tennis Is Easy!” – a free low-key introduction to the game.
On Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. he will host Tennis is Kid’s Play! He believes tennis is a great sport for kids to learn agility, balance, and coordination. With equipment sized right for them, children can learn the fundamentals of tennis in a positive, social environment, he said. This is a free introduction to the game, for ages 5-12.
For those who have played tennis in the past, Johnson will conduct a free “Welcome Back to Tennis” program on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. for a review of the game, followed by a friendly game of doubles.
Johnson has a light-hearted, no pressure way of teaching tennis to all ages. He uses kick-balls to teach technique.
“If you were a recess rock star, I guarantee I will have you hitting a ball back and forth within the first 15 minutes.”
He bypasses the whole instructional part. He uses the bouncy kick-balls to teach people form and learn how to chase the ball around the court.
“You don’t need a whole lot of information to enjoy playing.”
There are a number of different balls that are used in tennis. Initially, many instructors teach children with a larger softer ball that is easier to chase and hit. Once they are comfortable with that, they graduate to the traditional ball.
Johnson suggests that instead of graduating and sticking to the traditional fast tennis ball, playing is more like a bell curve. A player might go up to that ball, but as they age, they can go back down to the larger, slower ball, allowing them to continue to play throughout their lifetime.
The Ocean Pines Tennis Club will also be celebrating National Tennis Month with a round robin and potluck on May 20 at 8:30 a.m.
“This is a time when we welcome new players, as well as when people get together at the start of the season,” said Dale Ash, the president of the Ocean Pines Tennis Club.
The month will culminate in an open house on May 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’ll showcase all the sports activities available for your enjoyment at our facility,” said Johnson.
“We will have fun activities for all levels, all players, all sports, including pickleball, tennis, platform tennis, and Spec tennis.
“This is your chance to see what the pickleball craze is about, or to introduce your family to tennis, or learn the up-and-coming sport of Spec,” Johnson said.
He also plans to have chair yoga and cooking demonstrations and he will fire up the grill.
He hopes the free clinics and open house will introduce more people to the racquet center and to the many racquet sports. Balls and equipment are available for use.
“Playing tennis can add nine years to your life over a sedentary lifestyle,” Johnson said. “That’s better than cycling, swimming, or jogging.”
He believes the benefits of playing tennis are because it’s an open sport that includes lateral movements, jumping back and reaching up.
He also plans to put together some programs in the near future for working people in the afternoons.
“After 4p.m. it’s crickets around here.”
“My motto is: get off the couch and join something, anything.”
What is Spec Tennis?
Spec tennis is a new sport, invented in 2016. The rules are the same as for traditional tennis, but players use a circular paddle with holes and a low compression ball. The court is roughly one third the size of a tennis court. The smaller court and the lower-compression ball allows the fun of tennis, with less pace and less court to cover.
The sport is considered a bridge sport because it is an easy way to pick up tennis skills and get a feel for the game.
Tim Johnson is offering an introduction to Spec tennis free every Thursday in May from 2-3 p.m.
The Racquet Center is offering Spec Tennis lessons on a regular basis. For more information call 862-219-3352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit https://www.oceanpines.org/web/pages/racquet-sports OP Tennis Club or call the racquet center at 410-641-7228.