Admittedly, I don’t closely follow the USTA’s efforts to get kids involved in tennis early. I know there’s some brou-ha-ha going on currently about changes to the 10-and-under programs, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.
I do, however, know a good idea when I see it. And the Amesbury, MA high school tennis team has come up with a brilliant idea to grow the tennis among kids in their town.
The tennis team and it’s coach has itself become an under-10 program and is conducting free weekly clinics for elementary kids. Several local moms kicked in to purchase the necessary equipment, and five of the girls on the team and their coach hold the clinics at the elementary school gym every Tuesday afternoon.
When I was a kid, football was the sport every boy wanted to play and the girls all wanted to be volleyball stars. The high school players were our heroes. We went to the high school games, knew all the players, and aspired to be like them in our own pickup games. And as a result, our high school traditionally excelled at football and volleyball.
Thanks to these high school girl tennis players, many of these kids will grow up dreaming of playing high school tennis. They’ll head out to the public courts and play pickup games, and they’ll pretend to be their favorite players from the team. And they’ll get better, and eventually play on the team themselves – fulfilling their childhood dreams.
Brilliant move by the coach. Really nice of the players who are participating in the program. And definitely an idea the USTA should encourage throughout the U.S.