Thinking outside the box. Taking tennis off the court to get more kids in the game.
Think you need a regulation court to play? Think again. This net comes in the bag.
Leah Friedman, USTA teaching pro: “You can set it up anywhere — a park, a playground, in your driveway. And it takes one or two minutes.”
United States Tennis Association teaching pro Leah Friedman and her young students set it up in the WGN parking lot.
Leah Friedman: “You can use a net or caution tape. You don’t need a tennis club anymore. You just need a space. You need to be creative and have fun with it.”
Chalk marks the court.
Leah Friedman, USTA teaching pro: “The courts are smaller but proportioned to age and height.”
Then it’s game on.
Leah Friedman: “Alright guys, you ready to do some tennis today?”
Brennan Nelson, youth tennis player: “I like getting outside and getting exercise and finding new friends.”
At just 10-years-old, Brennan Nelson already gets the point of the game. He picked up the sport at a USTA-sponsored junior camp held in his neighborhood this summer.
Brennan Nelson: “I’ll be playing it for a while.”
Leah Friedman: “Everything is partner based. They have to work with their partner to meet their goal.”
And the goals of the game have changed – especially when it comes to kids.
Leah Friedman: “It’s not just about the perfect forehand anymore. They’re not standing in line anymore waiting to hit two balls and then getting in the back of the line. We have the kids working together.”
Trinton Lee, youth tennis player: “You have to move around a lot and you have to work on your footwork.”
It’s what eight-year-old Trinton Lee loves about tennis.
Trinton Lee: “I thought that it would make me more healthy and I would be more active.”
The drills are designed to keep kids moving … and focused on the A-B-C’s.
Leah Friedman: “The A-B-C’s stand for agility, balance and coordination. Agility is being able to move in a balanced way from side to side. Coordination is the upper body and lower body working together.”
Ten-year-old Evin Williams has been working on her game for a few years.
Evin Williams, youth tennis player: “All the people in my family play. I play with my brother just in the house. Sometimes we go to the court. It’s active and it doesn’t really get old.”
And as you get older, the game grows with you.
Leah Friedman: “It is a sport of a lifetime. You can play when you’re three and when you’re 93. We’re getting it into these kids early and hoping they grow into it. They can teach their brothers, they can teach their sisters, they can even play with their parents. It’s a family sport.”
Families can visit Youthtennis.com for more information about the equipment or to find events and programs in the area.