Extreme Tennis

Tennis is making a comeback, thanks in large part to a new program called Cardio Tennis. It involves hitting shots, jogging, calisthenics, and moving, moving, moving for an hour

Yu Shing Ting
Wednesday - June 07, 2006
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Yuri Lang returns a shot
Yuri Lang returns a shot

The tennis boom is back thanks to a new heart-pumping fitness program called Cardio Tennis.

“Nationally the interest in tennis has just skyrocketed,” says Henry Somerville, tennis director at The Oahu Club. “I’m really impressed how successful Cardio Tennis has been in getting people back into the sport, or to tennis for the first time.

“In fact, I don’t remember any other tennis program that paralleled the resurgence of the game of tennis since the tennis boom in the ‘70s with Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs.”

Cardio Tennis was kicked off to the public during the 2005 U.S. Open. It’s a fitness program, not a tennis lesson, and consists of various warm-up, cardio and cool down drills.

Cardio Tennis instructor Henry Somerville keeps students moving
Cardio Tennis instructor Henry Somerville keeps students

Classes run for about an hour and are focused on getting people moving and active, elevating their heart rate into their aerobic zone.

“Cardio Tennis, the name, is new to the industry, but exercise tennis has been around for a while,” explains Somerville. “For over a decade Dino Bondallian in Kona, Bruce Nagel at the Kailua Racquet Club and others have been teaching exercise tennis classes which are very similar to Cardio Tennis.

“What the tennis industry is doing through Cardio Tennis is they’re trying to push the use of heart-rate monitors, and they’re trying to educate people on the benefits of elevating your heart rate.”

Cardio Tennis is for people of all ages and tennis-playing abilities. Fitness guru Denise Austin serves as the program’s spokes-woman, calling it a great work-out and a fun way to get in shape and improve your tennis skills.

Alan McClelland
Alan McClelland

Fifty-year-old Vicky Abigania of Kaimuki claims Cardio Tennis has lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol level.

“I needed to do something for my weight and my heart,” she says. “Before I used to run for just a little bit and I was already panting, but now with Cardio Tennis I can handle for the one hour, and after class we play, so we do about two to three hours of tennis.

“Cardio Tennis helped me with my health, and that’s why I force myself to do it. But I also look forward to do it. I don’t want to miss any classes.”

Since joining Cardio Tennis last July,Abigania has lost 10 pounds. “I thought I’d be losing weight all the time, but I lost it only in the beginning,” she says. “Now, I’m gaining muscle, but at least I’m not gaining weight.”

Abigania works as a manager at Aloha Gas and goes to Cardio Tennis three to four times a week. She has been playing tennis for about five years, but says the best part of Cardio Tennis compared to regular tennis is the running and social aspect.

“Everybody in the class is friendly,” she says. “At first, I thought maybe they weren’t going to be friendly, but everybody likes everybody.”

Lisa Cipres
Lisa Cipres

When Monica McClelland enrolled in the Cardio Tennis program at The Oahu Club last year, she couldn’t hit the ball across the net. In fact, she would often miss the ball completely.

Now she’s playing in leagues, winning matches and is even the captain of a tennis team.

“It’s all because of Cardio Tennis,” she says. “I like that it motivates me and that we’re made to push ourselves to go that extra mile.

“I also like that it’s fun and socially we all get along well. When new people come they get adopted into the group. Good friendships have been developed from the classes, and it’s continued off the tennis courts. We’ve had potlucks and other social events.”

McClelland enjoyed her Cardio Tennis experience so much that she recommended it to her husband, Alan. Now, the couple are regulars in class and on the courts.

“From a combination of going to Cardio Tennis and some regular weight training, I’m a little bit slimmer than I used to be,” says Alan. “I just turned 50 this year, and I feel much healthier and have more energy.”

In Cardio Tennis, it doesn’t matter if you hit the ball or not, it’s about movement and getting your feet there and back to position.

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