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I’m 51, my ankles are wrecked and I’m in pain for weeks after a tournament

At 17, I was thinking of going to university to study economics when I saw an advert in my local paper looking for someone to help run the real tennis club in Hobart, Tasmania. I didn’t know much about real tennis, which has been played since the 16th century but is very different from tennis. The advert specified someone with good racket skills, and as I’d been playing modern lawn tennis since I was nine, and was the No 1 tennis junior in the state, I couldn’t resist.

Real tennis is the game from which racket sports evolved, but requires different skills from lawn tennis. Courts and rackets are asymmetrical and the balls are cork, so are heavier and less bouncy. Serving is done on to a sloping roof and the scoring system can seem complicated to newcomers. There was a lot to learn, but absorbing the rules and physics was part of the appeal. My job involved tasks such as stocking the fridge, but the club also wanted someone who could learn the role of a professional, play against members and eventually coach. The more mundane aspects faded into the background as my game improved.

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Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:00:16 GMT

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