I should start with the caveat that I’m not a tennis pro, exactly. I’ve been playing tennis since my beloved grandma taught me how to play as a kid. My tennis career peaked with a few showings at national level tournaments and a full athletic scholarship to a Division I university more than two decades ago. But after years of junior and collegiate competition, I found myself over it: I even walked away from my last collegiate match, burnt out, leaving my shoes and gear on the court—without any racquets and determined never to pick them up again.
Years later, inspired by a friendship sparked with journalist David Shaftel (with whom I would later co-found the tennis lifestyle publication Racquet), I rediscovered tennis as an adult. It reignited a relationship to the sport and underscored everything I first loved about it. We started the magazine five years ago because we wanted to share that with other people, even those who don’t play the sport, so that they don’t have to feel like they know which player is ranked what or buy a fancy racquet in order to appreciate the tennis lifestyle.
And importantly, if you’re taking up tennis, you don’t have to be a very good player to grow to love the sport. It’s a really healthy, fun activity that’s open to kids or grandparents—age 5 or 95—and the perfect socially-distanced sport.
So whether like me, you’ve found your way back after some time away, or you’re brand new to the game—perhaps lured by the massive upswing in casual tennis playing that happened during the pandemic—I’m here to advise you about how to pick it up. Below, some of my recommendations for the best tennis gear for beginners, including the gear you actually need and the looks that will have you feeling your best out there.
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