Find Your Level Events
USTA Eastern recently hosted "Find Your Level", an introductory tennis event, on August 21 at the Donald Van Blake Courts in Plainfield, New Jersey, and is currently leading a five-week session for new participants to the sport at the same location. The goal of these events we will be holding in communities across the tri-state area is to make the sport accessible as possible for anybody who wants to play, especially in the current climate. State and local health officials have repeatedly cited tennis as one of the safer options for physical fitness right now as the sport naturally allows players to maintain social distance from each other. It's also a great family-friendly activity for those who are quarantining together and offers a host of critical cardiovascular and mental health benefits. A study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that those who played tennis increased their lifespan by 9.7 years—a larger increase than any other sport. Just as importantly, the game can boost mood and strengthen mental health, according to researchers at the State University of Southern Connecticut. Their study found that tennis players display more optimism and on average become less angry, anxious or depressed than those who play other sports.
At these events, we are following all safety measures as prescribed by local governments officials and the United States Tennis Association. We will provide a racquet to anybody who does not own one.
We spoke with Pastor Shawn T. Wallace—one of the participants at the August 21 event—about his positive experience mixing it up on a tennis court for the first time, and why he's come to enjoy the sport so much.
Have you played tennis before?
Wallace: I'd never played tennis before. I have always enjoyed watching tennis but have never learned to play.
What are some of the things you enjoyed most about the event? What did you learn or take away from the experience as a whole?
Wallace: I appreciated that they had something for every participant regardless of your level or experience—even my 6-year-old daughter who attended. It was refreshing to have instructors who actually showed you what to do and not just tell you what to do. The time that they took to make sure that I understood and that I was doing things the proper way was very good. I also enjoyed the variety of activities that we were able to participate in. Just from that one event, I have definitely gained a greater appreciation for athletes who play tennis.
Many studies have affirmed the health benefits of tennis. What do you think about tennis as an option for exercise?
Wallace: Tennis is a full mind and body workout. It is an excellent form of exercise. My experience at the event has encouraged me to want to play tennis more.
What do you like about tennis overall?
Wallace: I like the overall physical aspect of tennis, but I am also intrigued with the mental part of it. I like watching it and seeing how players make adjustments throughout the course of a match, how they are able to identify and shift based on how their opponent might be playing. Actually playing the game and learning more about the game [at this event] has heightened my interest in tennis and my overall enjoyment of it.
We want to help you grow the sport in your community. If you are interested in bringing an introductory tennis event to your area, please contact USTA Eastern Diversity & Inclusion Manager David Williams at email@example.com.