There are many reasons to take up tennis: You can play it your whole life; it’s social, relatively inexpensive, and good exercise. And unlike many other sports, it’s beginner-friendly. With a few basic lessons, you can learn enough to go out and rally. You don’t need to reserve a tee time or get a group together—all you need is a racquet, a ball, and an opponent.
But it’s still challenging. Although becoming good enough to hit the ball is easy, becoming a top player requires lots of practice. With so many elements to work on—serve, backhand, forehand, volley, footwork, overhead smash—there’s always room to improve.
Public tennis courts—where you can play for free but might have to wait for court time—abound. The Web sites of county and city recreation departments often include listings of courts. See Web-site addresses on page 84.
At many area racquet clubs, nonmembers can rent court time and take private and group lessons and clinics as well as compete in ladders, round robins, and tournaments. The Sport & Health Club chain (703-556-6556; sportandhealth.com) offers dozens of courts. The McLean club has 19; other locations with tennis facilities are Annandale, Arlington, Herndon, Woodbridge, Bethesda, and in DC’s Hilton Washington, north of Dupont Circle. Prices for nonmembers start at $20 plus court fees.
Two good racquet-club choices in the District are East Potomac Tennis Center (1090 Ohio Dr., SW; 202-554-5692; eastpotomactennis.com) and Rock Creek Park Tennis Center (16th and Kennedy sts., NW; 202-722-5949; rockcreektennis.com) . In the suburbs, the Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club (16601 Roundabout Dr., Gaithersburg; 301-948-3116; qostc.com) and the Fairfax Racquet Club (9860 Lee Hwy., Fairfax; 703-273-9276; fairfaxracquetclub.com) are good bets.
Such clubs typically charge a per-hour fee for court time. Prices vary depending on time of day and year as well as type of court; expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30.
—Mary Clare Fleury