Best Practice: Team Tennis Summer Break
Definition and Example:
USA Team Tennis SummerBreak is a summer drill and play program for former high school tennis players and intermediate to upper levels adults. Some players are current or former college players, some are USA Tennis league players, some played high school tennis and graduated in 2003 and some played high school tennis and graduated in 1970! Some are self taught and never played in an organized program. Players range in age from 18 to 60!
SummerBreak is unique in that it employs a format that is very social yet is very competitive at the same time. The format also makes it very easy to organize a large group with a variety of skill levels. Most nights in 2003, we had close to forty participants.
A mailing about the upcoming program is done each spring to all participants from the previous year by Anoka Hennepin Community Education. All participants provide email addresses and are notified of tennis events, USA league tennis and activites throughout the year by the site director. Also, contact information on all in the program is emailed out so players can set up matches with each other.
In 1999, the first year of the program, area high school coaches were contacted and asked to provide contact information for former players. A mailing was done and phone calls were made to over 100 people. The program had over 50 participants the first year. Now, Anoka Hennepin Community Education includes SummerBreak in their program brochure every spring and they do a mailing to previous participants. Five other communities have started SummerBreak programs and the Greater Twin Cities Tennis Association promotes all metro sites to graduating high school players at the state tournaments and through high school coaches.
The site has 14 tennis courts, which allow for large numbers of participants and allow for singles play if desired. Each session starts out with a large group drill that practices a skill or tactic. Then players are sent out in groups of four to play three sets.
The four may choose to play one set of singles against each player or to play one set of doubles with each player in the group. Regular scoring is used but groups may elect to use no-ad scoring or may start each set at 2 all if time is an issue. Players keep track of total games won in each set and report their total at the end of the night. The games are entered for each player each week using an Excel spreadsheet. Total games are divided by the number of matches played to provide a cumulative average each week for each player. Players are grouped each week based on cumulative average. This allows for flexibility in case a player misses, their average does not go down and they are put with players that are competitive with when they return. The four winners at the end of the program are the players with the most games won, which does reward participation.
A skill or tactic is focused on each session. The tactic is introduced, explained why it is important and key points in executing the tactic are pointed out. Participants or instructor demonstrate the tactic and the drill. Players are set up to drill using "King of the Court" formats, winners move up, etc. to practice the tactic.
The participants get a USA Team Tennis T-shirt. Players play three sets each week and report total games won. The top four players win a Wilson tennis bag. All communities with SummerBreak and beginning level adult programs are invited to an end of season team tennis event organized by the Greater Twin Cities Tennis Association. A local pizza restaurant sponsors the event and provides free pizza.
Former high school players and upper level adults.
The program is scheduled to run for six-weeks, one night a week from 6 - 8 PM.
The cost of the program is $30.00. About 2/3 of the players keep playing beyond the six weeks and go until October.