Tennis emerges as a winning Father’s Day sport

Make sure Dad's gift has game

Tennis has grown in popularity to rival golf as a U.S. participation sport —with an estimated 60 million players apiece. One thing’s for certain though: you’ll get more of a workout on the courts. A round of Father’s Day golf may not get your heart pumping  — unless of course, you make a secret $10,000 wager with your opponent on the 16th fairway. Otherwise, your body’s most important organ could nap through the entire afternoon.

Tennis, on the other hand, requires speed, dexterity, quick moves, precise hand-eye coordination and the ability to anticipate your opponent’s every shot. In other words, everything golf doesn’t. Whether or not you’re an experienced player, just getting started, or simply planning on giving it a try this Father’s Day read on. It’s a great sport for you and the kids. Not to mention your doubles partner — also known as your wife.

That’s correct. There’s reason to believe doubles can strengthen your marriage. How? Have you ever seen a successful doubles team on the courts? Playing  together forces couples to confront whatever issues they’re trying to hide in real life. Passive aggressive? Repressed anger? It’ll all come out on the court. Doubles can teach you a lot about just where your relationship stands. And remember, winning’s a lot more fun when you can share it.

Ball boy at U.S. Open
Ball boy at U.S. Open in Queens, New York/Photo: Shutterstock

Perhaps you can encourage Dad to play by picking up a tennis-themed Father’s Day gift. You can always start with a racket.  Or is it racquet? We prefer the first spelling — unless you’re playing squash, or something called “badminton.” We also suggest skipping your local big box stores for this one. The right racket, and the proper strings, are crucial. Make sure you’re buying from someone who knows the game.  

Next up? Shoes. It’s the second most important piece of equipment. The right shoes can be the difference between a great experience on the court and nursing a painful injury. Try for something comfortable and lightweight. And make sure they are shoes made specifically for tennis. Other types of sneakers can damage the court — not to mention your feet.

The right tennis balls are important too. Hint: Buy in bulk, dads, just like you do with nails and things. And don’t show up to your doubles game without new balls. It creates awkward moments and nobody invites you out for post-game snacks. Balls used to come in actual aluminum cans, but they still make a nice hissing sound when you open them. Use them about six times — and then, you have free dog toys.

Tennis pro Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria wears custom Nikes
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria wears custom Nikes during 2018 U.S. Open/Photo: Shutterstock

Now that you’re getting prepared, just how to carry around all this stuff? Ok, now, we’re getting serious. You don’t actually need a bag to play tennis, but they’re cheap. You can find a decent bag for $10. So, why not show up like you’re really ready to “serve and volley.” That’s tennis slang for “come to the net and hope for the best.” No need to invest a lot of money right now. A budget bag will do just fine — and they can generally fit two three rackets (or racquets) at the same time.

Finally, don’t show up to the court without a sense of style. Not only will snappy tennis attire make you feel better on the court, but you will also catch the attention of other players in your neighborhood since most wear faded tops that may or may not have said “Foo Fighters” in the not-too-distant past. Tip: If you’re really looking to impress, you can always research what the pros wear — and buy something similar.

You won’t play like Roger Federer, but you can dress like him. Well, at least that’s a start.