Tennis is the perfect sport for the lockdown because since you are playing your opponent on the opposite side of the net, it provides built-in social distancing. Now that the pandemic is winding down though, tennis still is an ideal sport to play because it provides a full body workout, great cardio and even a social aspect when you add in doubles play or mixed doubles play. And though pickleball players compete in closer proximity to each other than in tennis, pickleball still allows a fair amount of social distancing. Meanwhile, pickleball players are continuing to hone their reflexes and stay in shape, without running quite much as they would in tennis.  

The following guidance is from Anish Manrai, assistant director of sport and fitness at the Columbia Association. 

Q: Why do you think tennis and pickleball are great sports for people to take up even in their later years? 

A: Tennis and Pickleball are sports you can enjoy throughout your entire life. Studies have shown that it can extend your life expectancy by nearly 10 years. They are both great choices for boosting mental and physical development and extremely beneficial as a social outlet for seniors looking to stay fit and sharp. There is a tremendous “fun factor” with both these sports that can be a true game changer for your health and fitness and social connectedness. 

Q: Do you recommend that a senior start out by taking private or group lessons? 

A: An organized approach to taking up tennis or pickleball can enhance the success and fun elements involved to a greater degree. We at Columbia Association have some incredible starter group programs such as Play Tennis Fast and Pickleball Novice and Intermediate clinics that combine the social and instructional components that can create a great user experience on all fronts.

Q: What equipment and shoes would someone who is just starting out need? 

A: This is a very personal choice and can vary greatly from person to person depending on several factors. We have demo equipment for the participants to try in class and our program director and certified coaches will help guide the participant towards the right equipment for them. Shoes can be a little more general. We highly recommend players not wearing running shoes for tennis or pickleball as it does not provide for much lateral support. Shoes with a smooth sole are highly recommended as tennis and pickleball can involve quick adjustments in movement direction. 

It’s worth a mention that a good, sturdy pair of tennis shoes is just as important to injury prevention as an upgraded racket. Regular running shoes scratch up both indoor and outdoor courts, and are also super unsafe. 

Q:  Has there been an increase of people taking up tennis and pickleball lessons since the pandemic?

A: Tennis and Pickleball at CA during the pandemic has very much been thriving across the board as it is also a sport that organically created the right physical distancing while helping people have fun, socially connect while staying physically distant, continue to stay healthy by staying active and also in many cases learn a new sport / skill. We have seen some of the highest levels of participation in the past 3-4 years.

Daryl Moore is a freelance writer who returned to Maryland from Louisiana in 2018. He was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Waldorf. He gained a lot of Covid weight when his gym closed down. He missed basketball the most, so he took up tennis as a replacement, and is getting better every day.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is usually played with singles or doubles on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net, using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. The game combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Learn more about it at

Play tennis or pickleball locally

Learn about playing pickleball with the Annapolis Pickleball Club at

If tennis is more your speed, try the Anne Arundel County Tennis Association at

Play pickleball or tennis in Columbia at the Columbia Association’s 37 tennis courts and 6 pickleball courts:

What equipment you need to get started

Find information about the equipment new tennis players need at the Columbia Association blog:

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