TENNIS is for life – not just Wimbledon fortnight. That's the message from a group of sporty veterans in York.

As the action gets underway this week on the pristine greens of the All England Club, Britain is poised to go tennis crazy.

Local courts will fill up as people – inspired by brilliant Brits such as Andy Murray and Johanna Konta – dust down their racquets, pick up some balls and rally across the net.

Chances are that as soon as "game, set and match" is announced and the Wimbledon finalists shake hands, our ardour for tennis will begin to fizzle out.

Which is such a shame.

Tennis is a sport for all ages, abilities and – if you are prepared to pull on some layers – all weeks of the year.

Beryl Bean can vouch for that. Aged 78, Beryl is the longest-serving member at Fulford Tennis Club. She began playing as a schoolgirl and played her last league match in York six years ago at the age of 72. "My entire body ached afterwards and I knew it was telling me: 'that was enough'," says Beryl, with some sadness in her voice. So hard is it for her to resist the lure of the courts that she has given away her racquet so as not to risk temptation.

She remains a stalwart of the Fulford club, helping to organise its busy social calendar. But her contribution to tennis in York goes much further. Beryl is the co-founder of the local tennis league for women (the Fulford Ladies Invitation League, to give it its full, rather quaint title). It started almost 40 years ago in 1978 with just five teams. Beryl and her friends set it up in order to play against more women rather than just among themselves.

Today there are seven divisions, with 52 teams in all, and more than 500 women members playing competitive matches each week from April through to August.

Players range in age from teenagers to pensioners. In 2004, the Beryl Bean tournament was launched for women over 55. It now takes place every September and is a popular event.

York Press:

Fulford tennis players: L-R: Pam Mason, Eileen Lavender, Ann Grainger and Beryl Bean

Pam Mason is 69 and a regular in both the York ladies and mixed tennis leagues – playing two or three matches a week for Fulford Tennis Club. She also attends regular club sessions. "I also do lots of cycling too," says Pam, who is a keen gardener as well. "I find that cycling helps to undo all the stiffening you get after playing tennis. And I swim regularly as well."

Age is no barrier to Eileen Lavender, who is still playing tennis at the age of 79. She originally played at Heworth Tennis Club but switched to Fulford in the late Eighties and had many successes in league tennis. When she retired in 1998 she started playing social tennis regularly on a Monday morning. "It was far better than going to the office," she says, laughing. "It was great to have some company and a bit of a giggle."

She does yoga too and says it is important to keep fit as you get older. "I play doubles every week. I've always been a sporty lady. At school, I played hockey, netball and did athletics. I also do yoga. I went to the hospital recently and when they asked my date of birth and I said 1938 the nurse said 'you are almost 80 – by golly you do look well!'. I'm sure playing sport and being out in the fresh air is good for you!"

Ann Grainger is proof that you are never too old to pick up a racquet. She too up tennis five years ago at the age of 64. It was as much a mental as physical release for her because she had been caring for her husband Rod who had Alzheimer's.

"I first started playing when Rod went into a nursing home. I had been looking after him at home and suddenly didn't know what to do with myself. " A friend suggested attending a "Rusty Racquets" session at Fulford Tennis Club – designed for people who hadn't played tennis for a long time, or people keen to take it up.

"I just went along for something to do and to get me out in the fresh air," said Ann. "I absolutely loved it. After the first session I knew I wanted to come back for more. From the first time, it took my head somewhere else – and I met some very nice people. This is what kept me going after Rod died last year – and it still keeps me going.

"At Rusty Racquets, I get some coaching and meet a nice group of players. It has saved me."

The sessions take place on Mondays at Fulford Tennis Club from 7pm-8pm and cost £5 for non members and £4 for members.

Part of the appeal of tennis, say the women, is that even after decades of playing the sport, you can always get better.

Pam said: "It is a skill and can be hugely satisfying when you do a good shot."

Eileen added: "I always think that there is still time to improve."

Leo Knighton is one of the tennis coaches at the Fulford club and runs the Rusty Racquets sessions. He says you are never too old to take up tennis. "It depends what you want out of it. You can just come down for a bit of physical activity and a few laughs. It is a very relaxed session. It is more about the social aspect of tennis than player development."

Having said that, Leo agrees there is always room for improvement. "I can give tips on simple things such as your swing or how to grip your racquet. And it's not just about technique, it's about tactics and thinking about that next shot."