Tennis is a fantastic sport with so many benefits for your health and well-being that everyone should try a few games to give it a chance. In the guide below we cover the main aspects of tennis in Northern Ireland including -
- Northern Ireland's Top Tennis Clubs,
- Various Court Surfaces That Can Be Played,
- Tennis Racquet Size Guide for Kids,
- Understanding Ball Speeds,
- Recommended Tennis Shoe Brands,
- Finding A Local Tennis Club,
- Northern Ireland's Tennis Governing Body,
- Northern Ireland's Leading Tennis Tournaments,
- Recommended Tennis Racquets for Adults - Beginner, Intermediate & Professional
A Quick Background to the Game of Tennis
The Lawn Tennis is now commonly known simply as Tennis and is the direct descendant Real Tennis. Most rules of Tennis derive from this precursor and it is reasonable to see both sports as variations of the same game.
The Davis Cup is an annual competition between men's national teams and dates to 1900.The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Tennis Federation also known as the ITF.
Today there are 4 Major Championships – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US open. To win all four is known as the Grand Slam and is every players dream.
The oldest of these and widely regarded as the most prestigious is Wimbledon. This started in 1877 and was played on a grass court. This is the only major still to be played on Grass as most other tournaments have moved to Hard Court or Clay. Wimbledon is steeped in tradition and for this reason holds a special appeal to all professional tennis players.
Next to follow was the US Open in 1881 followed by the French Open and then lastly by the Australian Open in 1905.
Why Tennis is So Popular in Northern Ireland
One of the main reasons Tennis is so popular is that it has many benefits to your health as well as a great Social sport. It provides a great workout and is lots of fun. The main benefits are
- increasing aerobic capacities
- lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure
- improving metabolic function
- increasing bone density
- lowering body fat
- improving muscle tone, strength and flexibility
- increasing reaction times
Other benefits of tennis
As well as being a great physical workout, tennis is also:
- a non-impact sport
- a great way to meet people and spend time with friends
- suitable for all ages and skill levels. Whatever your level, you can find someone of a similar ability to play with
- helpful to reduce stress
- not dependent on youth or strength – you can play for a lifetime or start the game at any age
Finding A Tennis Court in Northern Ireland
Tennis is very popular in Northern Ireland and is played in organised competitions as well as social games. Club courts and public courts are available for hire in most suburbs and towns. If you can’t find someone to play against, many tennis clubs host organised social play, competitions and tournaments that will provide fellow tennis players for you to play with and against. Alternatively, if you don’t have a tennis partner, you can always practise your skills by hitting a tennis ball against a wall.
In order to play tennis you need certain equipment but unlike some sports the equipment can be quite simple. Essentially all you need is a Tennis Racquet, Tennis Balls and a court or wall. Once you have the racquet and balls then you need to find somewhere to play.
Private Tennis Courts in Northern Ireland
Within Northern Ireland there are a few public courts where it is possible to simply book the court and walk on, however these are not common and most courts are now though Private clubs. The private clubs simply charge you an annual membership and then it is a matter of booking your slot and away you go.
List of Northern Ireland's Top Tennis Clubs
- Belfast Boat Club,
- Windsor Lawn Tennis Club,
- Downshire Tennis Club,
- Ballymena Tennis Club,
- Newcastle Tennis Club,
- Dungannon Tennis Club,
- Donaghadee Tennis Club,
- Wallace Park Tennis and
- Cavehill Tennis Club.
One of the more prominent clubs in Northern Ireland are Belfast Boat Club – largest club in Northern Ireland based in Belfast with 12 courts. 7 of these are covered which enable the members to play all year round. Like most clubs they offer Group lessons, Individual lessons, group play, leagues, tournaments and cater for all ages from total beginner to advanced.
Other notable clubs in the region include Windsor Lawn Tennis Club, Downshire Tennis Club, Ballymena Tennis Club, Newcastle Tennis Club, Dungannon Tennis Club, Donaghadee Tennis Club, Wallace Park Tennis and Cavehill Tennis Club.
Governing Body for Tennis in Northern Ireland and Ireland
Tennis within Northern Ireland is run by Ulster Tennis based at the House of Sport in Belfast. Ulster Tennis is responsible for administering and developing the game of tennis within Ulster. It is part of the national governing body, Tennis Ireland, along with the branches representing the other three provinces in Ireland.
The Role of Ulster Tennis in Northern Ireland
The branch includes a number of individual members who have responsibility for particular areas within the game in Ulster, including:
- Junior Development
- Senior Development
- Child Protection
- Public Relations
Northern Ireland Tennis Tournaments
Some of the notable tournaments run by Ulster Tennis are the Ulster Junior Open and Closed Championships.
This attracts the best players from all over Ireland for the open events and caters for all ages. The Closed events are strictly for the home grown players and these can be fiercely contested.
For many the highlight of the year is the Ballycastle Tournament played in the Summer at the grass courts of Ballycastle Tennis Club. With the picturesque nature of Ballycastle and the fact they still have 5 Grass Courts it is a special event every year.
As well as the tournaments Ulster Tennis oversee the Leagues as well and there are several different options to cater for all abilities. Practically every night clubs are busy with teams of 5 playing against friends and family to see who has bragging rights for another week.
NORTHERN IRELAND TENNIS EQUIPMENT GUIDE
As with all sports the equipment is vital. The key item is the Tennis Racquet and getting the right racquet is important to ensuring maximum enjoyment.
When choosing your racket it is always a good idea to get advice from a proper Tennis Shop or Coach. Factors that will need to be considered when purchasing for a child include;
Tennis Racquet Size Guide for Kids
|Age of Child||Recommended Racquet Size|
|Age 4-6||21” Racquet|
|Age 6-8||23” Racquet|
|Age 8-10||25” Racquet|
|Age 10-12||26” Racquet|
Aluminium Racquets for Beginners
In terms of the quality of the rackets then there are the lower price points from £15-£30. This price band would essentially purchase an Aluminium 2 Piece racquet and would be aimed at the total beginner.
Graphite Tennis Racquets for Intermediate & Advanced
If having some experience and want a “better quality” racquet then the Graphite Composite or Graphite racquets are the next option. These are generally made of Graphite which is a much stronger material and the racquets would then be 1 piece.
These would generally cost anything from £30-£100 and should last longer than the more basic models.
When purchasing for the younger player then the type of tennis ball is also important. The ball bounce will make it easier for a player of certain abilities to hit it and helps development. The main balls in this category are
A Guide to the Different Types of Tennis Balls Available
Red Ball – for the younger age where there is less pressure in the ball so bounces less and easiest to hit. This ball is usually larger also. Generally aimed at the 4-6 age.
Orange Ball – slightly more bounce than Red ball so as the child gets bigger the ball gets a bit higher. Usually aimed at the 6-8 age bracket.
Green Ball – again slightly more bounce than the Orange ball and is the closest to the normal adult balls. This would be aimed toward the 9-11 age bracket.
Prices for these are usually in the region of £1-£1.50 per ball.
Tennis Racquets for Adults - Men & Women
Adult Racquets follow the same principle as the junior racquets in terms of quality but here there would not be a size difference. Nearly all adult racquets are 27-27.5” in length. There is no real difference in these and in many cases it is simply down to what the manufacturer has as their standard size.
Once more the price of the cheaper models start at about £15 for Aluminium ones and increases until the graphite models at about £40 and can go in excess of £200 for top of the range.
How Much Should I Spend On A Tennis Racquet?
A general rule of thumb would be that if just starting out and it is not
going to be too serious then the entry level is fine. However if you are
planning on playing regular and want to invest in some better quality then
prices up to £80 would be a better investment.
Once tennis is being played on a regular basis and are perhaps playing in Leagues, Tournaments etc then the price you would expect to pay would be £100+.
The difference in the rackets are usually based on weight and composition. The most popular weight for the better more aggressive player is around 300 grams. These rackets tend to be the more expensive range and are based on the racquets the top professionals use. Examples of these models are
Professional Standard Tennis Racquets
- Head Speed MP
- Head Prestige MP
- Wilson Pro Staff
- Wilson Clash 100
- Babolat Pure Drive
- Babolat Pure Aero
Top Tennis Racquet Brands
The most recognised brands purchasing are Head, Wilson, Babolat, Technifibre and Yonex. These are all well established and most top players would be using one of these brands.
A Quick Guide to Tennis Shoes
Once you have your racquet sorted then what other equipment do you need? Depending on the court surface a proper pair of shoes are also vital. Tennis shoes provide specifically the following benefits -
- More support
- Better Grip
- Good Cushioning.
The court surface will determine the shoe type to go far and as a general rule there are 4 different types of sole.
Different Types of Tennis Court Surfaces That You Can Play in Northern Ireland
1. Hard Court –
these soles provide the best grip on a traditional hard court. A hard court can be concrete, Rubber etc and is the most popular type of sole on tennis shoes.
2. Omni Court –
these are the mainly artificial grass surfaces which have rubber balls or sand on them. These can also be used on hard court and Clay courts.
3. Indoor –
these are usually in the form of a Carpet court and are very distinctive in that these are totally smooth soles. These are specific to indoor only and not really suitable to any other service.
4. Clay Court –
designed to wear on the artificial Clay courts but can be used on the Omni courts as well as the hard court.
Top Tennis Shoe Brands
The main brands for footwear are K-Swiss, Adidas, Babolat and Nike. Pricing can vary from £50 up to £150 but a good pair should be in the region of £80-£100.
So we are kitted out with the Racquet and the shoes we need tennis balls to finish off. Most tennis balls come in a pressurised container and are in in either 3 or 4 ball tubes and the price is usually in the £6 a tube range. Any balls from Wilson, Head, Dunlop, Babolat that are in a pressurised container are good. The higher price balls are usually more tournament standard so as long as the retail is around the £6 then that is enough.
Tennis Gear Bags
Tennis Bags are also popular especially if you plan on carrying more than one racquet. Racquet bags come in the form of either 3 racquet holder (1 compartment), 6 Racquet holder (2 compartments), 9 Racquet holder (3 compartments) and 12 Racquet holder (3 larger compartments). Although these are classified as holding up to 3, 6, 9 or 12 racquets it really just indicates the size of the bag and items such as shoes, towels, balls etc are stored in these compartments.
Pricing can vary but the smaller 3 bags retails in the £30-£40 region and the most popular 6 bags are £40-£70. The larger bags are £70-£100.
Tennis Racquet Re-Stringing Service NI
In terms of Racquet care an important aspect is the restringing of the racquet and the regripping of the Racquet.
Restringing is simply replacing old or broken strings with new strings. The type of string is usually a Synthetic string for the average club player who wants feel on the ball. The more durable harder string is a Polyester String and this is usually the choice of the big hitting better club, tournament or professional players. Any good specialist shop should be able to provide a guide to the most suitable for your ability and the price would be £20-£25. The general rule of thumb is to restring the racquet the same amount of times you play per week (play twice a week, string twice a year).
In terms of Regripping the racquet – this is a very under appreciated area. A fresh grip improves the feel, improves the grip and should improve performance. Grips retail from £3-£8.
If you need advice or support please phone us at - 028 9038 1722