Anyone wanting to get to get some exercise and try a new sport should consider tennis on one of the city’s many free-to-use outside courts.
That’s the message from Cllr Duncan Wood, who was recently put through his paces by former international player Penelope Moor at the City Council’s courts at Heavitree Pleasure Ground.
Cllr Wood is taking part in 12 Moves in 12 Months – a challenge to try out a new activity each month during 2022.
It aims to champion some of the amazing community groups and organizations in Exeter who are supporting people to be more active in their daily lives.
It began with yoga in January, before moving on to Nordic walking, bowls, Qigong, baseball and now tennis, which marks the halfway point of the challenge.
The six tennis courts at Heavitree Park are free to use and do not need to be booked – just turn up and play.
Anyone wanting to join a group and benefit from some instruction from a local coach can attend Tennis for Free sessions at the courts every Saturday morning at 10am.
Cllr Wood said he enjoyed his new challenge after practicing forehands, backhands, volleys and serves.
He said: “Tennis is a great game and I enjoyed playing it as a child. I’ve been training with Penelope, who has shown me how to swing the racquet to control the ball and to get it to where I want it to go.
“The courts here at Heavitree are absolutely amazing – people can just turn up and play for free. If you haven’t played tennis for as long as I have you may need some pointers – Tennis For Free on a Saturday morning is great for this. It is a great way of getting back into the game.
“But if anyone can’t make those sessions they can just turn up at any time and give it a go – there’s no need to book and the courts are entirely free to use.”
The Tennis For Free (TFF) sessions at Heavitree Pleasure Ground were recently ranked number one in the UK for participation.
The weekly sessions are run by national sports charity Tennis For Free in partnership with the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and Exeter City Council.
Equipment is provided for those who don’t have a racket and no experience is necessary.
All ages and abilities are catered for.
Organiser Penelope Moor was decided for free coaching sessions on the courts at Heavitree when she was a teenager and went on an illustrious career, playing at Wimbledon and at major tournaments throughout the world.
She said: “Tennis For Free is a national charity and is an amazing thing – it brings people out to try tennis. It introduces them to tennis and encourages them to come out and do something healthy in the fresh air.
“It has been brilliant and we have become the number one out of around 100 sites in the country. We’ve had incredible participation – between 45 and 50 people. We’ve averaged every Saturday morning from 10am until 11am.
“The public can sign up online and come along, from the ages of five and upwards. It is lovely to see, we get the parents involved with the little ones and it becomes a family participation.”
For more information and to book online for a Tennis For Free session at Heavitree Pleasure Ground visit www.clubspark.lta.org.uk/heavitreepleasureground. More information is also available on Facebook.
12 Moves in 12 Months is part of the Live and Move #ShareYourMoves campaign to help people become more active in the city.