I remember taking tennis lessons when I was a kid. I don’t really remember much of the rules but I remember those big wooden rackets! I didn’t take lessons for very long and although I enjoyed it at the time, it never really became something that I did as an adult.
When I was contacted recently about the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and their Jr. Team Tennis Quickstart Tennis program, I was intrigued. Jake is 5 years old and we debated about signing him up for Little League this year but the costs associated with it just were not in our budget. This means that we are on our own again this spring and summer to make sure that we keep him active and provide some fun opportunities for him.
We were sent a whole box of tennis equipment courtesy of the USTA. We received 4 tennis racquets of various sizes, a bag of balls of different sizes for the Quickstart program, a package of traditional tennis balls, a USTA Quickstart Tennis Practice Session manual for ages 5-6, a USTA Quickstart Tennis Practice Session manual for ages 9-10, and a USTA notebook/journal.
The Quickstart Tennis format is geared towards getting kids 10 and under playing tennis as quickly as possible. The goal of Jr. Team Tennis is to turn what is traditionally viewed as an individual sport into a team sport. It is fun and social as well as practical. Kids find it easy to learn, they have a great time with their friends and it is rewarding because they learn and play through team matches that allow them to apply what they have learned.
From the site:
QuickStart Tennis is an exciting new play format for learning tennis, designed to bring kids into the game by utilizing specialized equipment, shorter court dimensions and modified scoring, all tailored to age and size. It is divided into two different levels– ages 8 and under and ages 10 and under.
It’s the fast, fun way to get kids into tennis– and keep them playing.
The variables of Quickstart Tennis are as follows:
*8 and under
*10 and under
Scoring is based upon a 7 point game, the first to score 7 points wins. Then depending upon age, they play a certain number of games per match. Overall games are shorter to keep their attention.
*The 8 and under group uses a foam or very low-compression ball that moves slower, bounces lower and travels less distance.
*The 10 and under group uses a low-compression ball that moves faster than the younger group, but still slower than a regulation ball.
*The 8 and under group uses 19″, 21″ or 23″ racquets.
*The 10 and under groups uses 23″ or 25″ racquets.
*The 8 and under group plays on a 36-foot long court.
*The 10 and under group plays on a 60-foot long court.
Quickstart Tennis is essentially tennis, scaled down to a kid’s level. In order to properly learn and play, everything from the court size to the movement of the ball needs to be modified to accommodate a child’s smaller size. Quickstart does that!
Another aspect of Jr. Team Tennis in general that is very important is that it encourages parental involvement. Jr. Team Tennis wants parents to become coaches and managers and even start their own teams or leagues if necessary. This is a benefit that many other youth sports just do not have.
Below is a video with Martina Navratilova that I thought was really interesting about the experience kids have when using adult sized equipment.
Jake and I are both very excited to get outside and play tennis together once it warms up enough!
On March 2nd, the USTA is holding the first ever national day of youth registration for Jr. Team Tennis and other local tennis activities. Almost 650 tennis programs across the USA are hosting events in their communities to encourage kids and parents to get into the game. If you are interested in finding a league near you, you can visit the Jr. Team Tennis website at http://jrteamtennis.usta.com/. And if you can’t make it on March 2nd, you can find contact information for your local league so you can still sign-up – it is never too late!
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