Outside of the two weeks when Wimbledon is on, most people in the UK tend not to think about tennis too much. This is a huge shame because if you play regularly, tennis is both tremendously enjoyable and a fantastic way of staying fit. If, however, you only play during Wimbledon it can be a very frustrating experience for two reasons: all the courts are full because everyone in the country had the same idea, and playing a couple of times every year isn’t enough to get beyond the “hit most balls into the net/over the fence” stage of the sport.

Give it just a little more time, however, and you’ll be firing balls into all corners of the court like a pro, especially if you get a little expert guidance. If you take advantage of the opportunities available through the Great British Tennis Weekend, you can get plenty of playing time and a bit of coaching – all for free.

The Great British Tennis Weekend involves tennis clubs and venues opening up their facilities for free, although contrary to its name it runs throughout the summer. The two big weekends to circle in your diary are 12th-13th May and 21st-22nd July, when you’ll find that pretty much any tennis facility near you will have some kind of offering, but there are also events happening before, between and after those weekends.

Savvier types will realise that the second big weekend comes just a week after Wimbledon finishes, meaning you can expect a stampede to hit the free facilities, so we recommend signing up to the May weekend for what should be quieter courts.

The best way to see what’s available near you is to go the ClubSpark website and pop in your postcode. This will bring up all the Great British Tennis Weekend events around you ordered by how far away they are, along with details of what’s going on. At some places the courts will just be opened up for general use, but lots of clubs will be putting on free coaching sessions for all abilities.

If you haven’t swung a racket in anger since your childhood, this is an opportune time to get back into tennis, and if you’re an experienced player it’s a great opportunity to check out your local facilities and clubs if you’re not already a member. And if all of this sounds a bit too organised for you and you just want to know where you can play tennis in London, then check out this guide to capital courts you can book right now.