Byline: By Wales on Sunday
The 2004 Wimbledon All England Tennis Championships get underway tomorrow - and it won't just be the professionals who will be getting involved.
Around three million people in Britain play tennis as a hobby and even more will be dusting down their racquets in June.
As part of its FIT IN campaign, the Sports Council for Wales has joined forces with Tennis Wales to encourage women and girls to draw inspiration from the Wimbledon stars, and try out tennis for themselves at their local tennis club.
Tennis is a fantastic way to get fit and have fun at the same time. Anyone can grab a racquet, a friend and a few balls, and head down to their local tennis court for a game or two.
There are around 100 clubs affiliated to Tennis Wales throughout Wales and these clubs have approximately 10,000 members. The clubs are everywhere, from Caernarfon to Wrexham in North Wales and from Haverfordwest to Chepstow in the south.
Tennis incorporates all the key aspects of physical fitness - stamina, strength and flexibility. Your body will benefit from a full cardiovascular workout while steadily building up all-round strength and improving your speed and flexibility.
One of the many benefits of the sport is that it can be played at any level, by anyone at any age, as the pace can always be adjusted to suit your own ability and preference.
Tennis clubs throughout Wales offer both indoor and outdoor facilities. Tennis, therefore, need not only be considered a summer sport. The good thing about the game is you can learn in a very short time. Chasing the ball around the court gets the heart going, the oxygen flowing and the blood pumping - it is an all-round exercise that burns calories, builds stamina and improves muscle tone.
A good game of tennis involves working an impressive number of muscle groups. The strength for a great serve is provided by a push off from your quadriceps - one of the largest muscles in the body. This movement is similar to squats, an exercise for toning your behind, but a game of tennis should be far more enjoyable!
As well as the physical benefits, tennis can also offer a great mental boost. Like any exercise, tennis will release endorphins in your brain, instantly improving your mood. A fast-paced, aggressive volley is sure to get any stress out of your system, but equally, a gentle knockabout with a friend is sure to release any tension and lift your mood. …