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Home with a sick (but on the mend!) dog since Monday, I've been watching a lot of the Wimbledon women's tennis tournament. (Petra Kvitova was KILLING it all week long, and definitely deserved the big win today. But I digress.)
I never played (or was even into) tennis when I was younger — too busy with intense skating and dance training for any other athletics — but we had a tennis court across the street from my house growing up and all of my neighborhood friends took tennis lessons. So, I've always had a racquet and a decent grasp of the basics from goofing around with them on the courts during all those summer afternoons.
As an adult, my husband and I have been looking for affordable things we can do together for the rest of our lives that will keep us active and healthy, and tennis is one of the things we've decided to pick up, encouraged by three other couples we're really close with who play regularly.
When you think about it, all you really need to get started is a town court (usually free), a racquet (those vintage ones from Goodwill aren't just for decor), a sleeve of tennis balls and a good pair of sneakers. Daily deal sites, Craigslist, and your local recreation department are great places to find an instructor or a series of tennis lessons on the cheap. Plus, for both men and women, tennis clothes are oh-so attractive — not to mention, at the moment, totally on trend with the whole preppy-punk thing. (Watch the new HBO documentary "Fire & Ice" about the 1980s rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe if you need convincing on the punk part. It's exhilarating.)
Here are 5 Thrifty Things to get playing in style:
Wilson Triumph Adult Racquet ($15, Target)
A super affordable, modern design perfect for beginners. Until you take a few lessons, practice, and decide you're serious about playing tennis regularly, there's absolutely no reason to spend more on a racquet.
PUMA "California 2" 1983 Tennis Classic ($52, Zappos.com)
Sure, there are more performance-based tennis sneakers in this price range (like the Nike City Court VI) but I love the authentic vintage look of these, especially after watching the Borg/McEnroe footage. Plus, if you abandon tennis they're still sick kicks to rock with jeans.
Adidas Stella McCartney NWT Tennis Dress ($48, eBay)
I've been obsessed with Stella McCartney's chic, earth-friendly line for Adidas since it came out, especially this Nancy-Kerrigan-Olympics-inspired dress, but (as only a hobby tennis player) could never justify the price tags. Voila, like-new for less! Thank you, eBay.
Lacoste "Gab Outline" Tennis Visor ($17.99, Lacoste.com)
When playing any sport outdoors during the summer, a visor to shield your eyes from the powerful sunshine is a must. Channel a bit of the famed tenacity of brand founder (and 1920s French tennis champion) Rene Lacoste, aka "The Crocodile", for stick-to-it-iveness.
Echo Vintage Silk Scarf ($6, Tuesday Towels on Etsy.com)
Where to begin? The print, colors, and style of this vintage 100% silk scarf evoke images of a young Grace Kelley at the country club. Use it as a head covering to keep your hair out of your face while playing, tie it around your ponytail or the handle of your racquet bag. (Like mine, linked above & pictured below, which I got about 5 years ago at an Ame & Lulu sample sale.)
If you just want to sport chic tennis style this summer without breaking a sweat, check out all the gorgeous vintage tennis dresses currently stocked by Etsy sellers, like this vintage 1970s tennis sweater dress designed by tennis legend Billie Jean King ($25 from Urban Eccentric on Etsy).
And, last but certainly not least, check out these 7 creative & green uses for old tennis balls from the EcoSalon archives.
Story: Copyright 2011, Shoestring LLC. Photos: Courtesy of retailers.