Tom Okker – Dutch lawn tennis champion from 1964 – 1978 – one of the most successful men’s double players of all time.
Do you or have you ever played real tennis?
No, I have never played real tennis. I saw it being played however, a long time ago. Back in 1969 I played and won the tournament at the prestigious Queen’s Club in Kensington.
There they have one of the oldest real tennis courts in the world.
What do you think people find attractive in playing real tennis?
To be honest it looked like a strange game to me. The net is curious (pretty high at the sides and much lower in the middle), the court has walls and galleries which are all part of the playing field.
Had I then been invited to try out this game, I would have certainly done so.
Because of all the running I have done in my tennis career I have two ankle protheses now. It is not possible for me to run or jump around the court anymore but I’m happy walking without pain now.
Why should more young people start playing?
Young people should be doing sports.I find that important which in my case is quite obvious. It would be a good thing that more people try to play real tennis and then find out whether it is their future sport or not. As with every sport it is worth the try.
What is the importance of a new court in the Netherlands
Today we don’t have a court in the Netherlands. People who are playing, real tennis lovers, have to travel abroad. When we have a court in Haarlem, Huis ter Kleef can arrange demonstrations, so people can see for themselves, how nice it is to play real tennis. The number of players is small nowadays and it is useful to promote the mother of all tennis and Racquet sports.