On Sunday 29th June 2014, I was extremely fortunate to have been invited to attend a Maui Jim Tennis Clinic at The Wimbledon Club hosted by former WTA Number One Martina Hingis and All England Club Head Coach Dan Bloxham.
Decided that I was going to spectate as opposed to taking part, I chose to wear a smart dress paired with matching flat ballet style pumps. Now I’ve lived in London, England all my life but have never ventured to Wimbledon before (the closest I’ve got was neighbouring area’s Clapham and Battersea for my Grandmother used to live here before she relocated to Antigua) so walking up to the infamous Wimbledon Club after getting off at Southfields Station, allowed me to take in the different scenery, huge houses en route and the numerous entrance gates passed for access onto the Wimbledon Tennis grounds (would you believe people were actually queuing up for matching on taking place on Tuesday!)
It was clear this part of town had Tennis fever, for every single lamppost I walked passed had Wimbledon Championship Banners on them. This sure got me in the mood for the tennis clinic experience with Martin Hingis and Co and at this point I secretly wished I had worn appropriate kit to play and take part in as opposed to just watching.
After an approximate half a mile walk, I arrived at Gate 5 and took a few minutes to admire the view of the Centre Court structure just outside the gates before crossing the road to enter The Wimbledon Tennis Club Grounds. It was a weird yet pleasant experience to be standing directly outside Centre Court having seen the famous structure on TV throughout the years.
Having lost what could have been 7 minutes just standing outside Gate 5 whilst people watching, it was time to make the short walk down the paths of The Wimbledon Club where the lovely people of Devries Slam and Maui Jim were on hand to greet their lucky guests.
Name check complete and a Hawaiian Lei (garland) around my neck, I was led upstairs by one of the Devries Slam representatives to the balcony area where I was greeted by Maui Jim’s Head of Europe Marketing Director. I was delighted to learn that the lovely blue Lei my around my neck entitled me to a complementary pair of Maui Polarized Sunglasses.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog site, you would have known I recently reviewed Maui Jim’s Hot Sands Sunglasses, specifically designed for active individuals like I, who train / exercise / play sports outside so this time round I wanted to go for a pair of lifestyle sunglasses that you could wear almost anywhere in a brown / bronze shade to contrast with my skin tone.
Finding sunglasses that actually suit my round face shape can be quite a chore as I am very particular and fussy but after trying on two pairs and not 100% convinced on the look, the Maui Jim Marketing Director suggested I try on the Maui Jim Ginger sunglasses in shade chocolate.
I have always liked this style on other people but never for myself as they tend to make my face extremely buggy and fly like so generally stay well clear but much to my surprise the Maui Jim Ginger Sunglasses complemented me.
Ecstatic to have finally found this particular style of sunglasses that for once suited my very round face shape, I decided without a seconds thought these ‘Ginger’ sunglasses were indeed coming home with me! It also came in a gorgeous beige coloured case and patterned cloth. (I decided to review these sunglasses in an upcoming article).
Being one of the first guests to have arrived I had an extensive choice to choose from whilst taking my time to browse the collection on offer. I also took the opportunity to take a picture with the lovely Maui Jim Hawaiian dancers who, travel the world with the Maui Jim to perform their signature dance (more of that later).
I attended this event on my own and didn’t know anyone but such is my outgoing nature I quickly got to talking with the DeVeries Slam and Maui Jim team. A young lady also started talking to me and didn’t know at the time I in fact was conversing with the delightful Cam of fitness fashion site Fashercise whom I follow on Twitter.
We talked for a good 10 minutes about all things blogging, writing, fitness fashion, health and nutrtion and was inspired by Cam and Alex’s decison to give up their day job to run Fashercise as a business e-commerce site. Towards the end of our conversation, word quickly spread around the camp that Martina had just arrived at The Wimbledon Club and was downstairs ready to make her appearance.
I couldn’t help but notice how everyone went from moderate noise levels of chatter amongst their selves to almost complete silence when Martina eventually stepped out onto the courts to begin her warm up.
Professional cameras and mobile phones were quickly retrieved in an attempt to capture pictures and video footage of Martina warming up on the court below with All England Head Coach Dan Bloxham.
A further 10 minutes went by before the event started. During the welcoming speech by one of the Maui Jim Directors, we were notified it was time for those taking part in the tennis clinic with Martina and join her on the courts below. Cam asked if I was playing and when I replied about not having the correct attire to participate for I was originally going to spectate, she replied…
“When are you ever going to get this opportunity to play on court with Martina Hingis again? Don’t worry about how you’re dressed, come and have fun!”
Cam was right! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and whilst I didn’t come dressed in my kit to take part, I bit the bullet after Cam’s gentle coaxing and decided to partake in the afternoons activity’s in my formal dress whilst bare foot as my flat ballerina style shoes did not cut it!
We were told to line up alongside the base whilst Martina and Dan took to the centre to display our first task. We were put into small groups where we performed numerous warm up tasks including side stepping whilst bouncing the tennis ball along like you would a basketball, fast feet whilst side stepping in squat position and bounding across the court as wonderfully displayed by Martina and Dan in the picture below.
Up next we were told to perform a variety of hand clapping moves into our partners hands whilst still in the squat position. Going slightly off topic this instantly took me back to my childhood years as I reminisced singing along with my friends in the playground to ‘Down Down Baby’.
Its amazing how watching a demonstration of a hand clap routine made me remember every single word to this game… “Down down baby, down by the roller coaster, sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go. Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy pow! *smiles*
Anywhoo back to the article hehe. After that we paired up with someone different to test our hand eye co-ordination. We were given a ball each and were instructed to throw it to each other. This proved difficult than first thought as the success in catching the ball greatly depended on which direction your partner threw the ball.
Shoes off, I was ready to get stuck into the tasks thrown at us (no pun intended) The fact I was dressed differently went to the back of my mind for I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
With warm up out of the way and equip with a tennis racket, we set off in our small groups for our first real challenge…
Completing A Successful Volley
When Dan and Martina briefly demonstrated this move, or lack of it, it seemed simple to begin with until you, or I in this instance failed miserably to get any of my volley’s right.
The ball was bouncing off the edge of my racket to start with and after getting to grips with the position of my wrist for the ball to hit the centre of my racket, it bounced of wildly to the left and right of the court. All I kept thinking about was my poor partner having to chase down the wildly hit ball only for it to happen again, and again and again! *covers face*
With the volley out of the way (much to my relief) Martina and Dan demonstrated a few other techniques including…
How to Serve
Now depending on weather you were a lefty (like I) or a right-handed player there was different ways in which players could hit the ball to serve. Martina has a brilliant powerful serve which she effortlessly displayed during a demonstration to the group.
I felt a bit more confident with the serve, and whilst I got some balls over the net, most fell just short of making it over. I hadn’t played Tennis since my High School years during PE and completely took for granted just how hard this sport actually is (full props to the pro’s of this game).
A quick water break was had before we switched courts to complete a few tennis drills with Martina.
The idea was that Martina would serve each person a long ball, a short ball, another long ball either to the left or right to where the person was positioned finishing off with a short volley back to Martina for the next person to have a go.
Out of all the things we had done so far, this was by far my favourite! The quick feet and sudden change of direction is something that I’m used to when doing speed and agility drills but let me tell you, is a lot harder with the addition of accurately batting the ball to Martina.
Still in our small groups we each had a few turns before once again setting off to partake in a little game called king ‘or queens’ of the court.
Kings ‘Or Queens’ of The Court
Now I’ll do my best to describe this fun and somewhat competitive game.
In pairs, we each went up against club members of the All England Club and the first pair to be hit out was replaced with the next lot. If we (the non professionals and guests) were fortunate to hit the club members out, then that pair would become King’s ‘Or Queens’ Of The Court whilst the other pairs tried their hand in obtaining this status too.
This was fun but also gave me great appreciation in just how haaard playing doubles actually is for being successful relies heavily on communication with your partner coupled with positioning your body to line up the shot accurately.
We played this for approx. 10 mins before we concluded our tennis clinic with Martina Hingis and Dan Bloxham by attempting to bat our balls into the buckets on the other side of the in order to raise money for charity.
Those two hours literally flew by and was impressed that I survived whilst playing barefoot! (no injuries apart from sore glutes and shoulders the following morning)
Most people in attendance had commented I was the ‘Best Dressed Player’ whilst my former attire could have stolen the afternoon, I couldn’t hide from the fact that I had an awful lot to work on in terms of my tennis technique. Whilst tennis clearly isn’t my strength (I think I’ll stick to martial arts and kick boxing) I am glad I took part in the end and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
The afternoon concluded with prizes awarded for outstanding effort, good technique and best player. Cam, despite being a tennis newbie caught the eyes of All England Head Coach Dan Bloxham to bag herself third place and a supercool FitBit for her efforts and good technique displayed (congrats again Cam!)
The awards ceremony was concluded by a traditional dance by the lovely Maui Jim Dancers with Dan joining in towards the end.
It was a perfect end to a perfect glorious afternoon and would like to end my recap of the day by thanking the wonderful staff at Devries Slam for inviting me to be a part of Maui Jim Tennis Clinic with Martina Hingis and Dan Bloxam, Maui Jim for the fabulous Ginger Sunglasses, The Wimbledon Tennis Club for the wonderful venue, Pimms, Afternoon Tea and glorious views of the golf course and lake and to everyone else that played their pivitol part in making this day a HUGE success.
This day was definately one for the memory box and an experience I will cherish forever 🙂
DeVries Slam PR
Moi (Dani) This Woman’s Word