Get Ready, Get Set, Get Moving

We love tennis. Today’s page gives you a brief history and some tips from tennis champ Monica Seles on how healthy and fun playing this wonder sport can be.

It’s not always easy to get out and get exercise. You’re in school all day, sitting at your desk. When you get home, there’s homework, dinner and TV. Perhaps you have a recess at school or a gym class. If not, it’s even harder to get in a little time for fitness.

But, with too little exercise and too much junk food, you can quickly find yourself with a few more pounds than you’d like.

Tennis is a great way to have fun and stay fit. Tennis offers you a full body workout in a sport that you can begin playing as young as 4 and continue playing all your life.

Playing tennis burns tons of calories while helping your heart. In just a half-hour, a 140-pound person can burn 254 calories. That’s about what you’d get in a slice of pizza.

Here’s a little history on the sport:

Tennis is a “ball sport,” meaning that you need a ball to play. Ball sports can be traced back as far as 1500 B.C. to the Egyptians, who played them as part of their religious ceremonies. The game was first played by hitting a ball off a wall.

Christian monks refined it into what would become tennis. It was played indoors, with a leather glove to control the ball. Later, a handle was added to the glove, creating the first tennis racquet.

The balls went from being solid wood to leather filled with bran.

The sport was hugely popular with European royalty and nobles, but it soon found favor with the masses, and moved outside in the 19th century.

The term “lawn tennis” was coined by British statesman Arthur Balfour in 1875. The sport gained international fame after the England Croquet Club offered lawn tennis as a bonus. The club, which was located in the suburb of Wimbledon, had its first lawn-tennis tournament in 1877 and the world’s most famous tennis tournament was born.

Tennis champ Monica Seles talked to Classroom Extra about her love of the sport.

“I started playing at about age 8 after watching my brother play. I played on a wall where we lived in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia,” she told Classroom Extra.

It didn’t take Monica long to get the hang of the game. At 14, she played in her first professional tournament. By 17, she was the best female tennis player in the world. She’s won more than 40 titles.

But for Seles, tennis is more than just tournaments. It’s just a great all-around sport. “You should play because you love it,” she said.

Seles championed the benefits of the sport. “Kids learn hand-eye coordination, concentration and discipline. Kids are so very easily distracted, and playing tennis helps because you have to concentrate on the court. You can learn about teamwork, but also about individuality,” she said.

Seles is one of the great players of the game, but tennis has also given a lot to her. “Traveling as a professional athlete, tennis has given me great friendships around the world and an understanding of different cultures that I will have for the rest of my life,” she said.

If tennis is not for you, there are other fun things you can do to keep fit, like walking, taking the stairs and riding your bike. So get up and get moving, but most of all have fun.