Anyone for Real Tennis?
Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club has received a boost following the addition of a Newcastle University team.
Jesmond hosts one of only 45 real tennis courts in the world. Situated on Matthew Bank and built in 1894, the court’s imposing exterior belies the vibrant, welcoming atmosphere of the club. Jack Walker, captain of Newcastle University’s real tennis team, told Jesmond Local: “We’re lucky to have it and it is definitely one of the nicest courts I have ever played on. There’s a fantastic social atmosphere and you can meet many interesting people at the club who live locally.”
The sport itself, originally championed by King Henry VIII, is a combination of tennis and squash. Still played using wooden racquets, it is a sport steeped in history and tradition. A baffling scoring system and various ‘hazards’ dotted around the indoor court are testament to its truly unique nature. But Walker argues that it is far more accessible than it seems. “If you enjoy hockey, cricket, squash or any racquet sport, it’s great fun. The court has a large floor, allowing for a real run around. And it’s the true test of hand-eye coordination – when the ball is struck with force, it can travel at well over 150mph.
“The club is pretty popular with the local community,” explained Walker. There are more than 100 members of all ages and abilities playing once or twice a week. It is home to Jamie Douglas, 2009’s UK amateur champion, but the club still emphasises the importance of participation and enjoyment. Tournaments open to the entire club are organised on many weekends, epitomising the club’s inclusive feel. “It has a very relaxed atmosphere, and there’s a colloquial vibe in the spectating area. People from all walks of life play real tennis and our court is a great place to meet people,” Walker said.
The future seems bright for the club too, with the Newcastle University team a welcome addition to the set-up. The team is now in its second successful year and is constantly recruiting new members. “There hasn’t been a student who hasn’t enjoyed their introduction session yet,” said Walker. The students play non-student members on a weekly basis, and are fully integrated within the club. Last year, the team even went on tour to the United States to play four east coast clubs.
The club welcomes all new members, and a free introductory taster session with the professional is offered to anyone who expresses an interest. So, if a sport with ‘chases’, ‘dedans’, ‘bobbles’ and ‘boomerangs’ intrigues you, what are you waiting for? And best of all, it’s right on your doorstep.
For more information, visit www.jdrtc.co.uk or phone 0191 2816854