For my semester in Kyoto, I played tennis as part of the Pacorn tennis circle. The group would meet every day except for Wednesday, and would play on several courts at a large tennis center. On average, 30 people would attend, being anywhere from 18 to 60 years old with varying skill levels. Each session had different groups of people, however there were a few regulars who I got to know during my time in Pacorn. Each practice started with a warm-up, usually with four to six people on a court, and would include groundstrokes, serves, and volleys. After everyone was ready, we would start a set of doubles or a baseline game.
My first practice started off a bit rocky, however as the day progressed, I found that everyone was very friendly and didn’t worry too much about honorifics or social hierarchies. Instead, everyone just wanted to hit and have a good time. This attitude remained the same for my other practices, with the club members being eager to hit and talk during the breaks.
Playing tennis in Japan was very similar to playing in the US, with many of the words and drills being identical. In addition, since many of the other members who I hit with were around my age, our playing styles were also quite close. On the other hand, the signal for “out” in Japan is what could be considered “in” in the US, leading to some miscommunications. In addition, Japanese tennis players seemed to be more reserved than their American counterparts, with few relying on loud grunts and even fewer expressing anger on the court.
From casually chatting with locals to competitive match play, my CIP experience as part of the Pacorn tennis circle has been fantastic. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to meet new people and get some great exercise.