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Tennis in Greece
by: Phil Naessens

Tennis is the greatest game I know. Teaching the greatest game I know brings me more joy then anyone can ever imagine. I can't begin to describe the feeling I still get when giving a lesson, especially when it's that persons very first one. It's an opportunity to give someone the chance of experiencing something that can, and usually does, last for a lifetime, and that's the joy of playing tennis. In early June of 2003, in an effort to build up my client base for the winter months, I offered a weekly beginners clinic for the local women of Corfu. To my eternal gratitude, two ladies said they would "give it a try". Neither of them owned a racquet and they really weren't all that convinced they would even like it, but they showed up anyway, with encouragement from their friend and mine, Malisse (the best female player in Corfu), again, to my eternal gratitude.

We started out with the basics; forehands, backhands and serves were taught those first 3 weeks. Nothing fancy, just tennis 101. I wanted them to rally as soon as possible so I decided to run a 3-ball groundstroke drill (dead ball feed to the deuce court baseline elbow, feed to the center hash mark, feed to the ad court elbow) and just see what would happen. They began to move, hit, laugh and experience the joy of hitting a ball on the run, and the frustrations of missing the ball as well. That's when these ladies went from 'experimenting' to wanting to play the game and things changed for them (and for me) from then on.

Fun is contagious and these two ladies started telling their friends all about the drill and inviting them to join in on the fun. Our drill of two soon became three and then five and we now average between six to eight ladies per week. These ladies also rent a court every Saturday, while their children are taking tennis lessons, and their games and their enjoyment about playing the game, have improved dramatically. People that watch these ladies play can't believe that they've really just begun because of how well they play.

Stopping there wouldn't do this story justice. Because of those two ladies, Ingrid and Hennie, and with encouragement from Malisse, I have two other groups of ladies taking up the game for the first time after driving by the courts and watching this group do drills. Now, these ladies are drilling, playing on their own, telling their friends, bringing their kids for lessons, and experiencing the true joy of playing tennis. Soon, and very soon, we will have the first women's tennis league in Greece and I couldn't be more proud or excited for them!

Tennis is the game of a lifetime. It's never to late to start. Go out to your nearest club and sign up for a lesson and experience for yourself what a great game tennis is! You won't be sorry you did!

Phil Naessens is the Director of Tennis/Head Tennis Professional at the Corfu Holiday Palace in Corfu, Greece. For information regarding the many programs for tourists and locals, contact Phil at pnaessenstennis@hotmail.com.