By Peg Lopata, Contributing writer
REGION – Feel like a bit of running around, hitting a ball, and want a partner to play a game with? Want some good exercise―both mental and physical―in a short period of time and not spend a ton of money? Doubles tennis may be just the sport for you.
Don’t let your age or physical limitations deter you.
Tennis is good for both your body and mind.
“Doubles tennis for an hour and a half or so will give you a good workout. It’s just what the doctor ordered,” said Ron Parlman, tennis director, owner, and managing director of tennis programs at the Wayside Athletic Club in Marlborough. “It’s good for your cardio system, it’s great for strengthening the core, back, and legs. It keeps your vision sharp, acts on your quickness, helps with your focus―you have to pay attention and concentrate.”
Even if you have some physical limitations, you can still play doubles tennis. Parlman himself, age 60, has osteoarthritis in both knees and he plays both singles and doubles. He has players at his club playing doubles who have heart conditions, COPD, are overweight or who have to go slow because their knees aren’t working so well.
A member at Parlman’s club with arthritic knees and an arthritic shoulder is just not going to stop playing tennis despite his various problems.
“He says if he doesn’t go out and do it, he will not keep loose and relaxed,” explained Parlman.
Yield to your limitations
But Parlman’s club player with arthritis plays smart. No more diving for balls. Those with heart conditions don’t overdo it. With age you’ll have to accept a ball flying by that you just can’t get to. You might say to yourself, ten years ago I could get to that ball. But if you can let it go―the ball, the disappointment and your limitations and get ready for the next shot―you’re training your mind too. With aging that’s a good mental state to strive for off the court too.
“That’s the beauty of it. You can push yourself as hard as you want or let up on your game,” added Parlman.
Working with what you’ve got
To slow things down on the court you can play with balls that have less pressure than the typical yellow ones. If you don’t want to get very competitive about it, there are clubs that have social doubles. You just show up and play.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has recreational groups all over the country where you can sign up and play with others just at your level, from beginner to advanced; players are grouped by age too.
Age should not deter you
“I have groups of guys in their seventies playing doubles―they can still cover enough court,” said Parlman.
The oldest guy playing doubles at Parlman’s club is 78. It’s a sport you can play for a long time.
Parlman admitted he was getting up at 6 a.m. the day after this interview with Fifty Plus Advocate to play doubles with eight guys who range in age from 55 to 74.
“It’s a great sport even if you’re not the most fit person in the world,” said Parlman. “You can get a lot of exercise in a very short period of time and have a lot of fun.”
Learn more about the USTA at www.usta.com.