Shanghai's best tennis classes

Learn to play tennis at these four classes

Photograph: courtesy Oliver Sjostrom via Unsplash
With the Shanghai Rolex Masters swinging back into town, our passion for the sport of tennis is also surging. Whether you're hoping to become the next Roger Federer (aka cute daddy dancer as we know him now) or simply fancy swinging a racket, here are the four best tennis classes you can find in Shanghai.

CETA Tennis

The China Elite Tennis Academy (CETA Tennis) is run by Conrad Singh and his team of fully-qualified Australian Tennis Professional Coaches Association (ATPCA) international tennis professionals. Many coaches are former ATP and WTA professional players, as well as sparring partners for superstars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (CETA Tennis is the official academy of the Shanghai Rolex Masters). CETA has also guided many of China’s current national tennis team to success – Singh himself has worked with the Chinese Women’s A Team as well as recent winners at major international events.

CETA offers a comprehensive list of services for young and adult amateurs as well as professional players, including biomechanical video assessments and mental conditioning courses aimed at honing technical, tactical and physical skills. If you have a child who would like an assessment, you can also sign him or her up for the CETA Futures Programme where talented players under 12 years of age are invited to undergo a special high-performance developmental training session.

With six locations spanning from Minhang and Xuhui to Nanxiang and Pudong, CETA runs regular age-group tournaments as well as annual summer camps.

A high performance session for aspiring pros lasts between five to six hours and, though we only take a condensed version, it’s remarkably intense with a series of short work outs and aerobic exercises. These are followed by court-based lessons on stroke style and situational awareness, with two physical conditioning sessions in between. The coaches are firm but professional – they don’t cut you any slack. We couldn’t help but pity the young girl at our session who sneaked out to take a break, only to be ordered back onto the court to resume training.

How much Private lessons start at 350RMB per hour, group lessons start at 180RMB per hour. Assessments and trials are available free of charge.

Best Tennis Academy Shanghai

Helmed by head coach Luis Zabaleta from Colombia, who has been coaching for eight years since 2009 and is a certified tennis instructor of PTR, RPT, LTA and ITF, Best Tennis Academy Shanghai has been coaching and teaching in many locations in both Puxi and Pudong. In fact, you can choose the one of your convenience. For Puxi, BTA tennis programmes take place at more than ten venues including the Xianxia Tennis Center, the Xijiao Sports Center and the Shanghai Stadium. In Pudong, BTA operates primarily at Kerry Hotel Pudong and Regency Park. Booking in advance is therefore essential as coaches will need to travel to your venue of choice.

The academy offers group as well as private lessons for children and adult on week days and weekends. Children's tennis sessions are designed based on the player's age and proficiency. Each session includes a warm-up, some tennis drills and match play to put the learned skills to use. A private tennis lesson for children is 300RMB per hour, and 250RMB for each in a two people group session (200RMB for three, 150RMB for four and so on). The adult programme is similarly customised to accommodate players at different levels. Price per private lesson is at 350RMB per hour and group a session is the same as children's. Note that the number of people attending group sessions cannot exceed four.

For advanced players, there is also the option to join the high performance programme developed by head coach Zabaleta. The programme is designed for those looking for intensive training to polish their skills in a relatively short amount of time. The four-hours-per-day session includes techniques, tactical, and physical training sessions which take place on court, gym or park, and the training does not exceed five days. For more details, add them on WeChat using the ID 'luisluchin'.

How much Adult lessons start at 350RMB per hour; Children lessons start at 300RMB per hour


Fusion Tennis

Another highly professional training outpost, Fusion Tennis has 10 coaches in Shanghai who are certified by the PTR (Professional Tennis Registry), with the most experienced among them being Pablo Eguiguren, the Director of Tennis at the academy. The Argentine has been coaching for almost 20 years now, and is also the coach for the Shanghai Provincial Team. One of his most recent achievements is helping WTA professional Zhou Yimao reach a career high singles ranking of 153 in the world.

Fusion is based at upmarket residential resort Shanghai Racquet Club, which is a members-only institution and thus if you want to partake of Eguiguren and co’s services, you’ll need to fork out for a membership. These aren’t cheap, with a one-year package starting from 60,000RMB. That fee gets you access to six indoor courts and seven well maintained outdoor courts, tennis ball machines for practicing your strokes, a whole slew of other sporting and fitness facilities, food and beverage outlets, as well as accommodation options.

If you’re already a club member, or don’t mind paying the huge fees for a premium tennis experience, you can select from a wide range of Fusion programmes that cater to players of every level. For example, they offer an A-Team programme that focuses predominantly on more technical aspects of the game like stroke development, tactical awareness, and executing specialty shots.

We were hosted in the impeccably well maintained (and air conditioned) indoor courts at Shanghai Racquet Club by coach Augustina Wibisono, who constantly provided positive reinforcement in spite of an echoey main hall that made it hard to hear him. The class started with stroke practice before moving onto a variety of hit-and-move drills. It was enjoyable and manageable, while the super swanky premises made us wish we had tens of thousands to blow on a club membership.

How much Adult lessons start at 185RMB per hour for SRC members.

Sport for Life

While being pretty well-rounded in all other sport sections, Sport for Life also has a solid tennis programme. Designed based on the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) guidelines, the programme allows learners of varied ages and abilities to progress through to full court tennis one step at a time.

For children, Sport for Life offer a level-by-level training structure. With five levels in total, new players will start by training basic skills such as hand eye co-ordination before learning to serve and stroke. For those achieving significant progress, Sport for Life also has a Squad Programme which trains players to play in tournament settings and really put their skills to the test.

The adult programme follows a similar structure as the participants can start their training at Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced level. Private training can be provided to one or two players at the same time.

How much Adult lessons start at 1,700RMB per season; 3,465RMB for children (aged four and above).
More info www.sportforlife.com.cn; info@sportforlife.com.cn; 6282 1762.

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