CU is a great place for tennis; 5 really good reasons why you want play, too

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
David Diep, from Champaign, hits a backhand shot while playing during the USTA state tournament at Atkins Tennis Center in August of 2022. Tennis is a widely popular recreational sport in Champaign-Urbana, so much so that there are well over 120 public and private courts in or within a 10-minute drive for most players.

URBANA - If you love tennis, then Champaign-Urbana is a great community to live in. With over 120 courts available, two well-maintained indoor facilities, and plenty of options for lessons and instruction, tennis is a fun sport for all ages to stay physically active, mentally sharp, and compete as a recreational player anywhere from a local level all the to way various national championships.

There are so many tennis players in the college town, home of the University of Illinois, that even with the unbelievable number of courts available for a community its size, there are times and days throughout the warmer months when players can have a hard time finding an open court.

Playing tennis, like several other active sports, is a worthwhile activity for activating the brain and keeping neural networks functioning longer because it requires a combination of tactical thinking, creativity, coordination, and agility. One benefit to hitting the courts on the reg is hanging out with other players, sharing postmatch stories, and thrill of hitting a match-winning shot, which seems to delay the onset of Alzheimers and other cognitive diseases.

Tennis for older adults can help them stay physically and mentally active well into your 70s and 80s. For example, a study conducted in Japan found that male tennis players enjoyed a significantly lower risk of developing dementia, like to the tune of being 25 percent less likely to develop the disease because of the social aspects of the game.

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
In Champaign-Urbana there are dozens of opportunities to play for all ages. Between private instruction, organized workouts, leagues, teams, and informal groups, you can almost play tennis every day of the week, all year long.

Social tennis, meeting new people and making new friends (and sometimes rivals) is a never-ending in a college community like Champaign-Urbana. There are dozens of informal groups that meet at neighborhood courts and daily clinics and drill sessions every week at Atkins Tennis Center and the park district's Dodds Tennis Center. All three area country clubs have tennis courts available for their members, or you can join the United States Tennis Association to play on a team or in sanctioned tournaments around the country.

Here are five other reasons why you should grab a new can of balls, that old racquet in the closet or garage, and a few friends for a couple hours a week with friends:

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
There is nothing like the thrill of putting the ball away for a winner in a during a tough match. Sometimes it is hard to contain your emotions when you come out on top with a win.

Enjoyment ~
Regardless of your level of experience, tennis is fun. Whether you play casually with friends or competitively in tournaments, the thrill of hitting the perfect shot to win a game is hard to beat. Whether you are pounding 100 mph serves down the T for an ace or hitting the perfect drop shot to humiliate your opponent, technique and strategy can overcome youth, and in many cases, experience.

Cardiovascular Health ~
Tennis can be a physically demanding sport. Most players find that as their level of play improves, the more calories they burn on the court. Young or old, playing tennis can help improve your cardiovascular health by getting their heart rate up and increasing your endurance.

Bone Health ~
Tennis is a weight-bearing activity that can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in older adults. Stronger bones reduce the chances of breakage from a routine, run-of-the-mill injury like tripping and falling off a slippery, ice-covered curb in the wintertime.

Stress Relief ~
Tennis is a fun and challenging activity that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. After spending an hour and half chasing the ball from one side of the court to the other, concentrating on something enjoyable will put any stress you might have on the furthest backburner. For older adults, tennis is beneficial in taking a break from their daily routines and enjoy time outdoors or tennis buddies.

Mental agility ~
Playing competitive tennis is mentally challenging. Not only does it require quick thinking and strategy, but also a high-level emotional control and focus. Playing regularly, can help improve problem-solving skills, decision-making abilities, and the ability to remain focused under pressure.

Champaign-Urbana has a large, friendly, and vibrant tennis community. You can have fun playing seven days a week: After all, it is all love out on the courts.

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
When the stakes are high, tennis can become a very emotional sport. The level of camaraderie with teammates and opponents, even at the recreational level, creates lasting memories.