Growing the sport of tennis… Seems like such a big task when you say it out loud. We recently went to a USTA convention where it was stated that when kids were asked what sports they participated in, they promptly said, “I play soccer, I play baseball, and I take tennis lessons.” Not this time! QuickStart Tennis is allowing kids to play the game before taking lessons. We are signing kids up that have never played before. The requirements: be able to drop the ball and hit it over the net once. That is what we call a serve in 8 & unders. It turns out that most kids the age of 5 and over can accomplish this task. In fact, some of them are beating the 7 and 8 year olds!
We are wrapping up the season finale of the first full year of QuickStart Junior Team Tennis. There were lots of lessons learned. The first being, that kids love being a part of a team. We have fun team names like the Precision Power and the Precision Spin. With that being said, they also don’t pay much attention to if their team wins or loses…as long as there is a snack at the end of the match.
The second biggest lesson is that success is viewed completely differently by the kids than what I would have perceived as success. When we first started, I cringed at the idea of sending a 9 year out on the court for a match who really didn’t know how to hit any kind of shot. All I wanted to do was go out there and give them a 10 min lesson before going any further. It turns out that most of them are in the same boat. They enjoyed going out there and trying. Sometimes they even won! Meltdowns were much rarer than I would have imagined. QuickStart is more about learning how to play, and falling in love with the sport.
The final lesson, and probably the most important, is the instrumental help of the parents. The wonderful parents that we have helping, make this league possible. In the league, we require each court to have a court monitor that helps keep score and guides the kids through the rules. Parents have graciously accepted this role, and there becomes a fine line between helping them keep score and coaching them to win. I have to say, Precision parents are awesome, even when it was sometimes painful to watch.