Many Singaporeans will probably watch and follow tennis games and will be able to rattle off the names of the top players on the pro circuits such as Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
But besides being a great spectator sport, tennis also makes a good lifestyle sport for many people in Singapore to learn and play on a recreational basis, according to Joel Siow, 27, Founder & Coach at Singapore’s Banana Tennis Academy.
INCORPORATE TENNIS TO THE MASSES
Said Joel, “At Banana Tennis, our main goal is to incorporate tennis to the masses; not everyone wants to be Federer or Djokovic so our philosophy is to have a lot of fun on the court and feel good about the tennis experience.”
He added, “And like any other sport, the further you go, the better that you will get when it comes to playing tennis.”
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT TENNIS LESSONS IN SINGAPORE
But there may be some misconceptions amongst Singaporeans with picking up tennis and getting tennis lessons, according to Siow, which is why some people may shy away from taking up the sport – as compared to other racket sports such as badminton or squash.
Joel said, “Singaporeans always compare tennis to badminton; to them, badminton takes place in a sheltered, air-con environment. Also people think that you need to have a lot of strength when playing tennis, but I think that badminton players can beat me at an arm wrestling bout, anytime.”
He continued, “While tennis may be harder to pick up as compared to badminton, both sports are equally hard to master; the shuttlecock moves at slower speeds at lower levels as compared to the tennis ball.”
As well, Joel points out that tennis is often seen as a rather expensive sport. He said “The idea is still floating around that tennis is expensive and that it is more prestigious than many other sports. But the coaches’ rates for learning tennis are actually comparable to those of badminton and table tennis coaches.”
SINGLE DAY TENNIS CLINICS FOR GROUPS
So Joel feels that more Singaporeans may be encouraged to pick up the tennis racket, if companies can get on board to arrange single-day tennis clinics.
He explained “If you start as a group then it is a cost effective way to begin learning tennis. Oh and as a bonus, if you really do not like your boss… then you can hit him with the tennis ball… and apologise telling him oh sorry I am still learning!”
A GREAT CROSS TRAINING EXERCISE FOR RUNNERS
But for those who do try out the sport, then tennis offers many benefits… and it can also be a great cross training exercise for runners as well.
Said Joel, “Tennis is a multi direction sport and works on agility and motor control skills. It tends to be a very anaerobic sport – I have some students who are marathon runners but after their first tennis session they are exhausted already. But at the same time though, it can be very aerobic – some of the professional tennis games can last up to five hours long.”
He added “Tennis in general is all about running and then stopping and changing direction. For running itself, you are just running forward but in tennis, you are stopping and changing direction to fool your opponents; if you do not learn proper footwork it can lead to problems and possibly injuries.”
HAD A TASTE OF TENNIS MYSELF
Joel provided me with four tennis lessons so that I could have a taste of the sport myself. In the lessons, I learnt the four basic skills of the sport – these were the volley, forehand, backhand and serve. These are the fundamental basics that Joel teaches all his students at the beginning.
I don’t usually play racket sports, so learning tennis had been definitely something quite new to me. And in my opinion, the hardest skill to pick up was probably the serve, which I had been taught in my final lesson – I think that the biggest problem was being able to gauge how high to throw the ball and to be able to connect this with the tennis racket. So by the end of the lesson, I had felt a tad disappointed, in not being able to master it.
The volley and backhand though, seemed to have been easier and seemed to come to me a little bit more naturally. And my favourite part was probably the backhand though.
Beside the actual playing and practising with the tennis ball, Joel also showed me a few exercises that tennis players would generally do in order to strength their muscles and improve their coordination; these were quite interesting too and I think that they can benefit runners as well as tennis players.
Through the lessons, Joel commented to me that I seemed to be “never tired” and that I “run a lot” on court.
He added that I was also “eager to learn, but handling and implementing the ball and the racket” were areas of that I would have to improve on – should I decide to pursue more tennis in the future.
Other common mistakes that new players tend to make, according to Joel, are also that they tend to “flick their wrists, thinking that they are playing squash or badminton.”
Added Joel “The racket and ball are quite heavy – so even flicking the wrists will cause wrist pain – but if you are able to move your wrist in the correct manner it should not hurt. As well, players think they can stand still and stretch in order to hit every single shot. Maybe the first couple of shots will be possible but you will eventually need to use the correct footwork to play effectively.”
FAIR SHARE OF LAUGHTER ON COURT
As well, as a tennis coach, Joel also added that he has had his fair share of funny moments. These had included two occasions when he himself had been hit by a tennis ball.
Said Joel “It was quite funny but painful. I generally don’t like pain, but both of those incidents were so funny even though I got hit.”
In fact during my third tennis lesson, I also had a funny moment – I had accidentally hit the ball in the direction of Joel’s assistant – who had been sitting on the bench – and it had nearly hit him! And for a while, all of us could not stop laughing… especially me!
Other funny moments involved less pain though, according to Joel. He said, “There was one time I told one of my students to imagine throwing the racket over the net. Then before I had finished speaking, there was a loud clatter… he really lobbed the racket over the net. I then asked him, what are you doing? He replied that I told him to do so! I then added that I had told him to imagine it and to not actually do so! Fortunately, nobody got hurt and the racket did not break – the guy got a scolding though. But it was really funny.”
He added “It is these funny moments on court that makes tennis fun; but even though I am happy and can laugh with them, I can still get angry with my students; that shows that I still care enough about the student to genuinely want them to improve. But my anger is not personal; it is because we want you to get better.”
TIPS FOR TENNIS LESSONS IN SINGAPORE
What are some tips that Joel can share about picking up tennis lessons and getting better at the sport?
He said “First of all you have to try and chill yourself and do not think so much about making a mistake. Listen to the coach and there is no need to be so obsessed with hitting the ball! Just try and relax and learn the proper swing techniques.”
Continued Joel “Actually I have encountered all types of students; there is one end of the spectrum – they swing with all their might and there is the other end who are very chill and lazy. Actually in my opinion it is the lazy students will learn faster though, as they will find the most efficient way to pick up new things.”
FEES AND MORE INFORMATION ON TENNIS LESSONS
Beginner Tennis lessons at Banana Tennis Academy start at $320/Month for individuals and $160/Month each, for groups.
Check out their website at http://www.tennissg.com for more information.
Thanks again Banana Tennis Academy for the lessons.
WIN TENNIS LESSONS
This contest is now closed.
Thank you to everyone who entered my Banana Tennis Academy Lucky Draw for free tennis lesson.
The contest has now closed and the three lucky winners are Lim Dawnice, Jeffrey Fong and Philip Yeo.
Congratulations to them!
To enter the lucky draw, all you need to do is to complete the following steps.
- Answer the question. What is the name of the tennis academy that Joel is founder & Coach at?
- LIKE “PrisChew Dot Com” and “Banana Tennis academy” on Facebook if you have a Facebook account.
- LIKE “Prisgooner” on Instagram if you have an Instagram account.
- Share this blog post.
- Email your name, mobile phone number and a screenshot of your social media share to email@example.com.
The contest closes on 20 September 2016 @ 11.59pm. Good Luck to you!
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If you are interested to learn how to play tennis in Singapore from Banana Tennis Academy, here are some of their links that you can look at.