Published on July 20th, 2015 | by Rebecca Anne Milford0
Maui Jim Tennis Clinic
Attending a Tennis Clinic at Wimbeldon Club with five-time Grand Slam champ Martina Hingis? Pah, just a typical Sunday. That’s what I nonchalantly told friends before heading South West on a sunny morning. In actual fact, there were more than a few butterflies in my tummy – and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know quite what to expect. The invitation had said to come ready to play, although tennis whites weren’t necessary. Rackets would be provided, but one should bring their own if possible. Now, I had neither equipment nor whites, but I was hoping enthusiasm and an unearthed Nike sports kit would see me through – and I was towing along a friend for the experience.
We arrived at Wimbledon Tennis Club – a beautiful sprawling collection of buildings and courts near the leafy suburbs. Thankfully, the other attendees were a mish-mash of exceedingly professional-looking hopefuls who were warming up while keeping their eyes keenly peeled for Martina, and then also those purely there for some spectating who were already on the Pimms. We were comfortably in the middle – that is to say, we were wearing shorts but made a beeline for the bar.
So what was the occasion for this once-in-a-lifetime experience? The Tennis Clinic was being run in conjunction with Maui Jim, the international sunglasses brand that combine the relaxed, easy-going cool of Hawaii with top style and a passion for adventure. The exclusive tennis experience was held to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) for a third consecutive year.
Upon arriving, we were offered the chance to choose our own, and so set about applying ourselves to the serious task of fashion. Should we go for some sporty wraparounds like brand ambassador Martina? Perhaps some bug-eyed retro specials? In the end I couldn’t help but pick the classic aviators with gold frame – a great size for the face, no odd ‘drooping’ effect, and pretty darn cool if I do say so myself.
Buzzing from our sunglasses haul, we had some more Pimms and got chatting to some of the other attendees. One lady, a member of the club, was infectiously excited about the chance to play with Martina and Dan Bloxham, the head coach of the All England Tennis Club. And, sure enough, soon it was time to hit the courts…
Even amateurs like us couldn’t help but be inspired by the passion of Martina and Dan, which was mirrored back from the hoard of excited pupils. We started off with warm-ups, encouraged to join forces with teams around us, and learnt all about coordination and the necessity of practice. So far, so good. Tennis was easy! We should start doing it all the time…
Then it got on to actually hitting the ball, and this is where my friend and I suddenly remembered why we hadn’t become pros in our youth. Actually whacking the ball was fine, but getting it to go where we wanted… well. Not so much. As there was a brief intermission and everyone moved onto the grass courts for actual rallies, we decided we’d done enough exuberant exercise for the morning and headed off to find more Pimms. Half the fun of tennis is the spectating, surely? And listening to that satisfying thwack as someone else hits the ball…
The day ended with a feel-good factor as we witnessed the Vice President of Maui Jim in Europe, Hans-Jürgen Penzek, hand over a cheque for £4000 to Optometry Giving Sight. The money will go towards helping fund eye care projects in the developing world. So, a Sunday spent supporting charity, snagging sunglasses and swotting up on serves? Sounds Ace to me!