Tennis Anyone?

2006-10-09

Jinji Tennis Center
Jinji Tennis Center

There's enough racket volleyed across life's net to make you want to take folks to court. Why not take them to a tennis court instead? Backhanded puns aside, it's a great way to workout frustrations internally or one-on-one while working up a healthy sweat. Tokyo serves a wealth of private and public facilities you're sure to love.

The city is awash with indoor and outdoor facilities offering both places to play and instructors eager to help you get your game on. Jinji Tennis Center has been offering lessons - with a special emphasis on kids' classes - since 2002 at Hilton Tokyo and weekly at Tokyo International School.

"Our purpose is to teach tennis as a lifelong commitment to physical and mental well being," says Shai Gigi, head coach who designed the center's tennis programs. "As part of that mission Jinji places specific emphasis on the tennis education of young children, in order to give them a competitive edge at their schools. We also encourage them to embrace life-long daily or weekly tennis activity as a healthy and inspirational way of life."

Based at the luxurious Hilton, Jinji's group and private lessons are open to all. Fees start at 6,500 yen or 7,000 yen (plus 1,000 yen if you're not a hotel guest) to reserve one of its two hard courts on the fifth floor for a match. However, similar to facilities at Hotel New Otani Tokyo and Shinagawa Prince Hotel, hotel guests get first dibs on courts before availability is opened to the general public. On Saturday mornings at Tokyo International, Jinji hosts its Junior Development program at 10:40 for ages 7 to 12 and its Little Champs program for 5- and 6-year-olds at 9:40. Each program costs 3,000 yen per lesson.

"The development weekend class will give children the opportunity to have an extra group lesson, as well as a chance for new players to come and join in," says Gigi. "For Little champs, we teach all the tennis strokes using specially sized rackets and soft tennis balls. This program is a great way to build on the children's natural enthusiasm for sports and develop their sporting attributes."

Jinji also offers a Junior Elite program to train and support young players for regional and international tennis tournaments. The intensive program includes 16 monthly hours of singles and doubles training. With no more than six students per instructor, Gigi says it includes advanced stroke techniques, mental training, drills and simulated match play.

For those more interested in a place to play there are hundreds of public tennis courts in Tokyo. As with private clubs, however, be prepared to reserve a court well in advance (as much as two to three weeks in advance for an hour of play) and for some you can only sign up for a bid to use their facilities via a lottery system.

Popular private clubs with facilities open to the public include Taisho Central Tennis Club Shinjuku, which despite its name is actually located in Shibuya. From Tuesdays to Sundays it's eight hard courts are open to visitors with initial fees ranging from 2,100 yen to 51,00 yen depending on the time of day and day of the week. In addition, expect to pay from about 6,300 yen to book a court for an hour of daytime play. Its sister Taisho Central Tennis Club Mejiro, in Shinjuku, offers 13 recently refurbished courts for a similar deal.

For details on Jinji Tennis Center e-mail Shai Gigi at: shai@jinjitennis.com or checkout their English-language Web site at: http://www.jinjitennis.com. Info (in Japanese) about Taisho Central Tennis clubs and schools awaits you at: http://www.taisho-tennis.com or call their club in Shibuya at: 03-3320-8631 and their club in Shinjuku at: 03-3987-2822. A handy online resource loaded with Tokyo-area tennis facilities is available at: http://www.tokyotennis.com/mainindexmain.htm.



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