By Dr. Annette “Dr Z” Zaharoff
What do you get when you have a wooden paddle, a ball, and enough space to fit a ping-pong table, but you don’t have a table?
Maybe you know it better by its official name, “road tennis.” Or maybe you don’t know it at all. In any case, you should get to know RoTenGo, a diversion that’s becoming increasingly popular as a fun workout that’s easy to learn and extremely addictive.
Think of it simply as table tennis played on the ground. It uses a net about the size of a table-tennis net. You can play indoors or outdoors – all you need is a flat surface, paddle, balls, a net and an opponent.
The sport’s origins come from Barbados yet San Antonio is probably the nation’s biggest proponent. We’re the headquarters of the non-profit USRTA (US Road Tennis Association) offering tons of activities, tournaments and free clinics.
USRTA Executive Director Charles Lewis-Blunt is the man who re-branded road tennis with the catchy name RoTenGo, short for “road tennis on the go.” He’s been introducing the sport across the city at military bases, schools and at Siclovia, one of the city’s fitness initiatives urging residents to get outdoors and exercise. The USRTA sponsors free classes for beginners at McFarlin Tennis Center Monday and Wednesday evenings starting at 6 pm, and Tuesday mornings at 8 am; and at Woodlawn Lake Park on Saturdays beginning at 8 am.
As a member of the Mayor’s Fitness Council, I like RoTenGo because it’s a great workout that’s inexpensive and accessible. The court is usually 10 by 20 feet, so you can play in a parking lot, on a tennis or basketball court, in the office break room or in the garage.
RoTenGo improves coordination and definitely gets the heart rate pumping. You don’t have to be in great shape to get started. Just hit the ball back and forth a few times to get a feel for it and you’ll understand why the game is so much fun. It’s easy, but it does involve skill. Speed and agility matter more than strength in this game.
RoTenGo is a family-friendly sport that encourages socialization along with physical activity. You play in fairly close quarters and without the table between you, there’s a greater sense of connection with your opponent.
If you want to see RoTenGo in action you can go to YouTube and see plenty of videos. Shoemaker Adidas put together a slick short video showing 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray taking on some of the world’s best at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OFYz0hLJ08.
Now get out there and RoTenGo!
Dr. Annette “Doctor Z Md” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical alternatives to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed in the WTC circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at www.drzmd.com.