There are a lot of options out there for kids under the age of 10, and I find that most parents also have the title chauffer. Most kids have a crazy schedule between school, soccer, tennis, basketball, baseball and school work at night. It’s not only a lot to do, but it’s often difficult to figure out what you are signing up for. So here is my parental guide to tennis in the Triad.
Where to Start:
Tennis is one of those sports where you need a little bit of baseline information about how to hit the ball and keep score. Because, let’s face it, whoever came up with this scoring system is nuts. Clearly, it is not like any other sport where if you score a goal, you get a point.
Start with the basics: Getting your child into a clinic is great. Even a few lessons, can make a big difference. But sometimes, money and schedules are difficult to accommodate. You can play in your driveway! You can hit the ball back and forth with them. Teach them what you know and ask for assistance. There are plenty of programs out there that can give aid financially.
Get them playing: Ok, learning is fun, but playing is so much better. One of the quotes that stuck with me most is when you ask a child what they participate in, they say, “I play soccer, I play baseball, I play basketball, and I take tennis lessons.” This is not the case anymore! One of the HUGE benefits of QuicKStart Tennis is that kids can play points almost as soon as they start. In 8 & unders, I tell parents that if your child can drop the ball and hit it over the net, that counts as a serve and they can play a match. Granted, a match takes about 20 minutes, so don’t get frightened by the word.
Get them hooked: Once they start playing, you have them hooked, and the avenues to take are plentiful. Here is a simple guide to what is offered in the Triad.
What Means What in the Triad:
- Junior Team Tennis: this is a team format that gives kids a chance to play on Sunday afternoons. It is a USTA League that they can advance to the State Championships. They play the 10 & under divisions in the QuickStart format. This means 8 & unders will play on a 36 ft court with the red low compression ball and the 10 & unders will play on the 60 ft courts with an orange low compression ball. Junior Team Tennis is only offered in the Spring and Fall seasons in the current structure, and it does not count towards rankings.
- GRETA League: if you are a member at a club, your pro probably wants you to participate in their own “club league”. It is technically called the GRETA League, but in laymen’s terms it is called “Interclub”. This is ran on Friday afternoons. They DO NOT play the QuickStart format. This means if your child is just starting, they will play on a full size court with a green low compression ball against kids that have been playing for quite some time. This league is not sanctioned by the USTA and does not count towards any advancement.
- Summer Interclub: This is the same thing as listed above, but it offered in the summer. If you are involved in a tennis program at your club, this is a popular option. They DO NOT play in the QuickStart format. This league is not sanctioned by the USTA and does not count towards any advancement.
- Team NC: Team NC is a group of kids that participate in skill and development camps through the USTA. ANYONE CAN BE APART OF TEAM NC! The camps are designed to evaluate athletic skills and tennis skills. It also gives kids an opportunity to play with other kids around the Triad and create a team environment for them. Kids that rise to the top of each camp move on to another camp that develops skills at a higher level. The Team NC Camps are called JAMBOREE, AREA CAMP, and finally, STATE CAMP. These camps do not count towards USTA rankings.
- Tournaments: USTA Sanctioned Tournaments qualify kids to have state rankings. State rankings can then allow kids to play bigger tournaments with better players based on your ranking. Once you succeed in the state ranking system, the USTA has sectional rankings (we are in the Southern Section) and National rankings. Currently, there are no structured rankings for the 8 & unders.