True story: Once upon a time, in a magical land, far, far away…
Lol, just kidding! One very frigid January day in Gwinnett, a young family stumbled upon a charming neighborhood with dozens of kids frolicking in and around the recreation area and playground. In the center of this Norman Rockwell scene they heard laughter and cheers of “great shot,” “nice try” and “good game!”
“What was this place of happiness in 38-degree weather?” they all thought out loud. Ah HA! It was the land of an ALTA tennis match. And so, that young family moved into the magical land—err, charming neighborhood—20-something years ago and lived (and played) happily ever after.
If you have never played tennis, specifically on a team, you don’t know what you are missing. Whether you play in a neighborhood, a club or out of a park, the camaraderie that comes with most teams is unmatched and very rewarding.
Tennis is not only a fun way to exercise while satisfying that competitive spirit (with the bonus of a nice tan, if that’s your thing); in Gwinnett, it is as social as social gets. Unique to the Atlanta area, and perhaps actually more important than the team lineup, is the food. Themes or cookout options are limitless and complete the weekly experience of playing on a team and meeting new people.
Q: Did you win today?
A: No, but the line calls were good and food was amazing. I got the BEST chicken chili recipe from the other team!
Win or lose, food brings us all together. Although, at first glance a non-player may observe what could be described as well-behaved, feral children running amuck as they scavenge the food table while their parents are on the court… Fear not, the tennis village helps watch over all and you will most likely make friendships that will last a lifetime!
“But I’m over 40, it’s too late to start.”
Bad excuse! It is never too early or late to start playing. Indeed, MANY people that play feverishly started in their 30’s and 40’s and play well into retirement.
How to get started and where to play…
The options are endless. If you live in a neighborhood with at least two lighted courts (the requirement for leagues), contact your HOA board and inquire who is the tennis contact. They should be able to help point you in the right direction. Also, the ALTA and USTA websites are fabulous resources.
For the true beginner,
there are many public and private tennis centers and clubs that offer lessons, and some even include a free racquet. We once heard a story of a 35-year-old beginner that secretly took small group lessons before joining a neighborhood team, and then went on to captain for many years.
It’s not just for mature adults with bad knees! A cool little game with a funky-fun name, this is actually the fastest growing sport in the United States. The game can be played as singles or doubles and combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong. It is played on a smaller court with a low net similar to tennis, and what looks like an oversized ping-pong paddle with a whiffletype ball. As this sport grows in popularity, many cities and parks have started leagues. A simple Google search of “where to play pickleball in Gwinnett” will help you find one near you, and at playpickleball.com you can watch a short video that will have you hooked to try!
Finally, where do I find that perfect outfit and get the gear?
Let’s face it, you merely need a racquet, tennis shoes, comfortable clothing and a can of tennis balls. You can find these essentials just about anywhere, but if you want personalized service that will guide you in the right direction as a newbie, Your Serve Tennis centrally located in Suwanee is one of our favorite specialty stores.
No matter what league, level or format you choose, we just KNOW that you will DiG the sport and we double dog dare you to get out there and go for it!
Game. Set. Match. Cheers!
Gwinnett County Parks and Rec
operates ten tennis centers and five pickleball courts, and also offer tennis lessons at several locations. gwinnettparks.com
ALTA (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association)
Founded in 1971, ALTA tennis gives big-town Atlanta a small-town feel with over 80,000 members. By joining a team, you can hit the courts year-round for some neighborly competition and all ages and levels are welcome. With teams ranking from AA1 to C8, there’s a place for the seasoned player or rookie wannabe (they tend to wear the cutest outfits). Need a team? On the ALTA homepage navigate to “Find a Team Today” and then click on “Find Players/Teams.” altatennis.org
USTA (United States Tennis Association)
Although not quite as popular in Gwinnett as ALTA, USTA is a league played all over the world with a different level system. It offers similar leagues (women, men, mixed, youth, combo leagues, seniors) and also hosts tournaments, clinics, etc. to promote the sport. usta.com
So, you don’t play well with others and are looking for a singles league or doubles with more flexibility? T2Tennis is the league for you! Their tagline is “The FLEXIBLE way to play,” and that says it all.