I play tennis regularly.

I started when I was young.

It’s a great game.

Basically you have to hit a ball as hard as you can past your opponent to win a point.

It’s quite brutal and brilliant exercise.

What’s not to like for a young lad?

Except tennis has a problem.

You see young lads don’t play it.

At least the sort of young lads from what we used to call working class areas, the sort I was from.

For a sport that is the closest to boxing for its sheer toe-to-toe slugfest competitiveness, this is a very big shame.

For decades, perhaps forever, the sport in England has been corralled by the middle classes, part exclusive social event, part mixed-doubles snorathon.

Don’t believe me.

Have a look at your local club. Look how high the fences are.

Tucked down leafy lanes their signs may say new members welcome but they don’t mean teenage lads strolling up on the off chance with dodgy trainers and an old racket.

Then have a look at the sorry municipal courts with their potholes and sagging nets.

When I was young, me and a mate plucked up the courage to go to the local grass court club.

The summer air was full of “sorry Jims” and “well played Vanessas” as the doubles were under way.

We stood by the clubhouse for about 45 minutes before anyone bothered to ask what we wanted.

I’ve never forgotten the look on the face of the club chairman.

It was as if he just tasted sour milk.

We went for about two weeks, hardly ever got on the courts and fled to the aforementioned tarmac battleground down at the park.

A few years back my sons showed some interest and we went to our local club for a knock-up.

The courts and the surrounding park had been left in trust for villagers by a local notable.

What we had no way of knowing was it was “club morning” but as only two of the five courts were being used, we started to play.

Two minutes later we were ushered away by an old fella on the off chance that more members would turn up.

They didn’t and the courts lay unused.

Later when I was a member of the adjacent football club I suggested at a meeting that the tennis courts remained unlocked so that local kids could play when they weren’t booked.

I might as well have suggested we hold charity wife-swapping events in the club house.

One old-timer suggested they had had “chewing gum incidents” when young people played.

I gave up.

So now when the only Brit in the last rounds at Wimbledon is a Scot who had to go to Spain to become world class, let’s not throw our hands up in clueless despair as to why we are no good.

The answer lies behind those high fences.

So I’m on my knees with plunger in hand in the shower unit.

Despite repeatedly warning them that their long hair will bung up the plug hole if they don’t remove it, the tray is now awash with soapy water.

At breakfast I search in vain for something to eat but the cupboard is full of empty cereal boxes.

The fridge has been beeping all night, forlorn little distress signals that its door’s been left open and the freshness of its contents can no longer be guaranteed.

Back late at night and all lights have been left on in an empty house, enough to confuse a 747 on its way to Gatwick.

My CDs are strewn across the kitchen, evidence of a party that seems to have moved on to somewhere more exciting.

A bath is out of the question as all towels have been left on the floor, curled like Indian pythons, perfectly constructed to retain their moisture from earlier use.

Yes both my sons are both back from university and as you pull up the drive at the end of a long day the house appears to be visibly sagging with the trauma of it all.