The Summer Olympic Series: Tennis


Introducing the world’s greats—Serena, Venus, Nadal, Osaka, 17-year-old Coco Gauff…and now, me? Yeah, right. But that’s not going to stop me from playing!

In the second installment of our Olympic Series (you can check out my adventures in Sport Climbing here), I challenged myself to play the fast-paced and internationally beloved spectator sport—tennis. 

From intense Wii sports battles to grade school summer camps to a course in college titled “Tennis 101” (no, seriously) … tennis has always been something I could easily enjoy despite spending most of the hour shagging balls. 

Rather than volleying the ball mindlessly between myself and a friend, however, I decided to commit to a full “tennis week”—complete with workouts, drills, and a final match. I invite you to check out my journey below and try it out for yourself!



Building My Tennis Bod

Obviously, I’m not going to transform into Serena within a couple workouts—but the awesome variety involved with a full-body sport like tennis has inspired me to adopt some of these moves into my everyday routine. 

While upper body muscles seem (and are) crucial to the sport— your lower body, speed, and agility are equally, if not more important. 

With this in mind, here’s my at-home workout for wannabe tennis stars like me:

Set 1: Upper body

  • Bench Press: 8-12 reps (you can use dumbbells or resistance bands)
  • Push-Ups: 10-15 reps
  • Triceps Push-ups: 10 reps

Set 2: Lower body

  • Skaters: 45 seconds
  • Lunges: 20 reps (each side)
  • Lateral Lunges: 20 reps (each side)
  • Goblet squats with resistance:  15 reps

Set 3: Core

  • Medicine Ball Slams: 12-15 reps
  • Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: 12-15 reps (each side)
  • Ab wheel rollouts: 8-10 reps
  • Plank: 1 minute

Set 4: Footwork

  • Jump Rope: 1 minute
  • Fast feet: 45 seconds
  • Tuck Jumps: 30 seconds

If you have it in you—aim for 2-3 rounds. This definitely had me sweating and sore the next day.  

Drill Work

Next, I set off to the court with my mom’s 30-year-old tennis racket all by my lonesome to practice. I Googled “Tennis Drills for Beginners” and found a great guide (for kids…but that’s about where my skill level is, anyway)—and seriously had a blast. Bonus points if you can listen to music to help you get into a sweet rhythm.

The great thing about practicing drills is that it breaks up the monotony of gym workouts, while still providing an outlet to get outside and get active.

Playing the Game

Now for the REAL fun part. I stole one of my best friends/tennis stars and challenged her to a match. She still destroyed me…but she commented on how I improved since the last time we played (i.e. I spent only a quarter of the time shagging balls).

I consider that and this week an overall win.  

Overall Ratings

Difficulty to learn: 5.5/10

Intensity: 5/10

Fun: 7.5/10

Would I recommend to a friend: I recommend bringing a friend! 

This article was written by Melissa Pelowski.