Okay, so I’m watching Game Night Live, KSL TV’s high school football show, Saturday night and I lean over to my wife and say, “This is why kids don’t play tennis! The ‘glamour’ sports get all the attention, press, money, and athletes. Why should a child with athletic ability be interested in tennis when they can play a ‘major’ sport and get on TV, or on the front page of the newspaper, and be a big man on campus?”
After a few minutes I realize that what I just said doesn’t make a very compelling case for playing a “minor” sport like tennis.
Then I started thinking about our tennis team’s away match this past Thursday to Skyline High School where I overheard some of the girls talking about how they want their children to play baseball because “baseball players are so cute” (not valid reasoning in my eyes!). I couldn’t believe my ears, here are tennis players wanting their kids to play something other than tennis! I butted into their conversation and said I thought it was important for kids to play a variety of sports and to let them gravitate to the sport they liked most. And, a little direction from the parents towards tennis would be helpful. They, of course, didn’t see it my way. But I tried to convince them that tennis teaches all the life experiences other sports teach (and many more) without the injuries seen in other sports (i.e., concussions, broken bones, etc). I also mentioned that tennis is a lifetime sport and a sport that families can enjoy together. I’m still not sure I made much of an impression on their young minds. Hopefully, as they mature they’ll realize the benefits of playing tennis over those more “popular” sports!
So, how do we get kids interested in tennis? Well, it all begins with exposure! We have to start junior programs within our communities and advertise them well. Whether those programs are clinics, camps, leagues, or local tennis associations we need to ensure they are well publicized and well structured to target kids already playing other sports.
The USTA’s various sectional and state organizations are always willing to meet with your city’s recreation department to assist them in getting programs started. In fact, here in Utah Liz Grayston with the Utah Tennis Association is willing to assist you in any way possible. She was very helpful when I met with the Saratoga Springs recreation department. Unfortunately, our city’s recreation department is staffed by only one part-time employee with too much on her plate already to start a tennis program, and until I can enlist more help within the community a city-run program will have to wait.
Most tennis programming is left to the various tennis/racquet clubs in towns. But, this doesn’t have to be the case, especially in communities that don’t have clubs (like ours). There are so many communities with minimally used tennis courts that are just ripe for programming if someone will only take the initiative. Sure this takes time, money, and people; but it can also be a money maker for the community. And most of all, this type of endeavor can really change kid’s lives—it did mine!
One day, as interest in tennis grows in our community, we’ll be able to start a Saratoga Springs Community Tennis Association to promote junior and senior tennis here in our wonderful city. What could be better than families playing tennis together in organized activities? And you never know, maybe we’ll even get some TV coverage along the way!
See you on the courts!
P.S. – If you’re interested in helping establish junior tennis programs or a community tennis association here in Saratoga Springs, please leave a message below–I need all the help I can get. Thanks!
This article was written by admin