- It is as much of a sign of spring as the opening of Pakkahuone or the golf course. And what is that? Well, Jukka Helin setting up the tennis courts. Helin is not responsible for the courts alone but he is still the cornerstone of this voluntary work.
Knee surgeries and an age of 74 have not slowed the man downand he is still drawn to the tennis courts even after 40 years of practice.
“Esa Soini was one of the hardest workers here when the courts were first installed in the 1990s. The activities of the tennis club died out in the 2000s for a long while, and then it was Olli Laurila and I who sometimes put the courts in order. At the time, Simo Länsivierto was also involved,” Helin says.
The courts in question are the clay courts next to the Mörne building. The courts are administered by Tennis-Roima, and they can be booked through the Golf club. Now, the courts seem to be in good condition, and they get a lot of praise for it.
“This clay is different than anywhere else. I remember that Seinäjoki uses something similar, and it’s slightly rougher. They made a really good surface here back in the day, and the bounces are almost always on point. We’ve received a lot of praise, even from Finland’s top players,” says Helin with pride.
Helin came to Uusikaupunki in the late 1970s to maintain the IT infrastructure of a car factory. In Uusikaupunki, Helin is known for his IT expertise as well as his sharp forehand drive. He originally planned to stay for the duration of his short contract at the car factory, but here he is still. The enthusiasm for tennis started from the courts of Saab. It’s impossible to reach the game levels of the golden years, but tennis, nevertheless, remains an essential part of the week.
“Back in the day, we played like crazy. Probably a bit too much. We didn’t think too much of it. It was just so much fun,” Helin says.
Helin has been pleased when players from Finland’s top 20 have come to the national games in Uusikaupunki, which have been held since 2009. His own top moments on Uusikaupunki’s clay court include playing with young people. The matches against two young boys with his deadly duo, Olli Laurila, became a regular thing almost 20 years ago. The 40-year age gap did not matter, tennis brought them together. They played on the familiar clay courts every week, summer after summer.
“The games against Juha Hepojoki and Casper Santanen have stuck in my mind. It took many years before the boys were able to defeat us for the first time. Since then, the development trends have little by little gone in the opposite directions,” says Helin and laughs.
Name: Jukka Helin
Pensioner. Known in Uusikaupunki for his IT expertise.
In the article series, Uusikaupunki residents share important places from around their hometown.