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Originally published May 16, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Page modified May 16, 2014 at 1:38 PM

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Gain tennis finesse while working your heart

No matter what skill level you are, it’s an intense workout.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Tennis Center Sand Point

7135 Sports Field Drive N.E., Seattle

206-522-5008

www.tenniscentersandpoint.com

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WHEN I first heard the name “Cardio Tennis,” the image that popped into my head was the kids who run after tennis balls at the U.S. Open, no racket required. Maybe it was wishful thinking — I’ve picked up my tennis racket only once in the past year.

Fortunately for rusty tennis players everywhere, the Cardio Tennis class at the new Tennis Center Sand Point requires basic tennis skills, but not a lot of tennis finesse. And no matter what skill level you are, it’s an intense workout.

You will get more out of the class if you have advanced past the basics. In addition to getting you to run nonstop, teaching pros Kyle Schraeder and Nick Ketcham also do some work on ground strokes, approach shots and overhead slams. They disguise this as “games.” I’m on to you two.

The class divided into pairs for warm-up at the service line with easy hitting back and forth, and I got used to moving my feet again to hit the ball properly. After we did some ground strokes at the baseline, we worked on control, competing to see how many times we could volley back and forth without hitting the net or missing the ball.

Then we split onto two courts, where we rotated between hitting forehands or backhands, adding squat jumps with medicine balls before switching sides. With just 10 people in class, there was little time to rest, and we had to keep up a good clip jogging between squat jumps and our ground strokes. Kyle and Nick called out tips, and Nick kept reminding me to follow through on my backhand.

For the next game, the teachers set up a ladder, a balancing Bosu ball and a jump rope at the back of the court. Three people were either running the ladder with a medicine ball overhead, doing squats balancing on the half Bosu ball or jumping rope, while two more worked on ground strokes, an approach shot, volleys and overheads.

I started in the back doing squats and waited my turn. I felt impatient; I wanted to hit.

When I got to the court, Nick sent balls my way relentlessly; I was running hard and trying to remember how to do an overhead slam.

Nick instructed me to let the ball come down lower on the lobs before slamming. Then he sent us back to the baseline to repeat. I could barely catch my breath each time the groundstrokes started again. Was tennis this hard when I was 16? I was relieved every time we stopped to collect tennis balls.

We moved on to mini teams, with two people volleying against one person, who was working on running toward a forehand or backhand. We could win points; the first person to five deemed the winner. The rest of the class had to do five push-ups.

During one round, I kept facing another player, Bill, who hit hard and almost always won when volleying. I figured out a place in the rotation so I wouldn’t have to play against him. Calculating, perhaps, but I like to win.

My strategy succeeded once.

We moved on to volleying in teams. The first team to get five points won; the losers did push-ups. I didn’t have much strategy available to me in this one other than hit the ball hard. It worked, sometimes.

I loved the class. I worked on my tennis form, and remembered how fun it was to hit and compete. I also was drenched with sweat. For any budding or rusty tennis players out there, Cardio Tennis will get you back on your game, cardio and tennis alike.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.



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