by Erin Thursby
At the age of five it’s hard to wield an adult-sized tennis racquet. But there’s an answer for parents who want their kids to share their love of the sport: Quick Start Tennis.
In the past kids would drop tennis because it would take so long for them to be able to manage the racquet. With Quick Start they can rally and make points right away.
“I’ve seen kids who didn’t even know how to hold a racquet and a few weeks later they’re playing for points and competing,” says Amanda Becker, USTA’s Tennis program coordinator for the First Coast area.
This feat is accomplished several ways. First, the courts are divided so that small players with shorter legs don’t have to traverse an entire tennis court. Second, the racquets are scaled down and lighter than traditional tennis racquets. Lastly, the balls are lower compression so they’re less likely to bounce out of bounds in these smaller courts. As the kids get older, the courts get larger as they go up in age division and the balls get higher in compression. Essentially it’s like learning to ride a bike. You start out with a tricycle, move on to training wheels and eventually you ride an adult bike. As a result, Becker says, “they’re actually playing and having fun.”
Since Quick Start is so affordable, at about $30 for a season of play, there are no high-pressure coaches. Instead they rely on volunteers, who are mostly parents and grandparents of the players. With Quick Start courts all over the First Coast, there’s sure to be a league in your area. If you’re interested in signing up a child up for Quick Start, email coordinator Diana Gardener at [email protected]
The organization behind Quick Start is the USTA, the United States Tennis Association. They have adult leagues as well, so kids can transition to the adult league when they are ready. USTA promotes tennis all over the country. Go to www.usta.com for more on the USTA and Quick Start.
Twilight Tennis at the Landing
For a free night of tennis love head on down to the Landing on Saturday, September 11th at 6 pm.
“It’s a huge push to basically tell everyone that…tennis is going strong in Jacksonville. It’s a night to bring the entire community of tennis players together,” says Amanda Becker, USTA’s Tennis program coordinator for the First Coast area.
Up on the Jumbotron, tennis fans can watch the US Open on the big screen, after enjoying a local tennis fashion show. There will be Quick Start tennis courts for the kids, a Dunking Tank sponsored by Linda’s Legacy featuring local teaching pros, a Serving Speed Cage sponsored by Go Pro Tennis, and a Photo Booth sponsored by Dan Harris Photo Art. Live music from power band C4X will follow the festivities from 9 pm to 1:30 am. Do bring your own lawn chair and blankets to watch the Open.
“Since many people will not ever have the chance to go to the US Open, USTA Florida wants to try and bring that fun tennis experience to them through Twilight Tennis,” says Becker. “The addition of some of these interactive activities will make it feel more like a Grand Slam atmosphere and keep the excitement going throughout the evening.”