Tennis sees major boom in interest amid COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Thomas Heath has set realistic goals for himself when it comes to his new tennis hobby.

"Outside of Wimbledon, I have no goal." he said.

A former collegiate offensive lineman, Heath isn't exactly built like a prototypical tennis player but that's part of the sport's appeal for him.

"This is totally different. It's more finesse and thinking about what you're doing rather than just pushing people out of the way," said Heath.

Tom is one of countless people who've taken to the courts since the pandemic started, tennis being one of the very few sports that's been allowed.

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"Been extremely busy, extremely busy. Probably got more people playing tennis than I can ever imagine right now." said tennis shop owner Bryan Gillespie.

Gillespie owns Bryan's Tennis just off Glenwood and Westgate Road. Bryan's been going nonstop since March.

"Folks getting back in. People who played 20 years ago, that business has gone up and you're getting a lot of new people in general," said Gillespie

For longtime players like Sameer Cheema, it's meant busier and far scarcer courts available.

"I saw oodles of new people coming out to play, so much so that it's tough to find a court at Cary Tennis Park. We'd go to Godbold and other parks and it became so difficult to find a court sometimes but you wait a little bit and you'll find a court."

Pandemic aside, the appeal of the sport is obvious. It's a fun way to exercise and a game you can enjoy for a lifetime.

"A lot of the people come in and haven't played for 20 years have said, man I miss playing. And it's just something that you can do in 30 minutes, an hour, hour and a half, two hours." Gillespie said.

Heath likes the individual challenge the sport presents.

"The competition against someone else is nice but it's a nice struggle for me. I want to get better myself, even if I win or lose doesn't matter I want to get better every week."
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