Children enjoy participating in a USTA Kids’ Tennis Club activity.
The bell rings to dismiss children from their class to wrap up the day, and while some run home to sit on the couch with their snack and video game controller in hand, Chicago District students are running to their gymnasiums to participate in USTA Kids’ Tennis Clubs. USTA Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Play Days are a great addition to the school schedule to incorporate more exercise and education in the school day. Within our district, many schools are adopting the USTA Kids’ Tennis Club initiative in various ways to bring more opportunities to our youth. With establishing a tennis unit within the PE class, schools are using Kids’ Clubs to unite students of all ages and ability levels to create a sense of unity and school spirit through the club.
Kids’ Clubs are being set up in gymnasiums, playgrounds, cafeterias or even classrooms, depending on the space. In Chicago, we like to use stations with skill development themes throughout the club. This makes it simpler for a beginner coach or club organizer, while also keeping the students engaged and challenged. Stations can also incorporate the ABCs: Agility, Balance and Coordination. Timing the station and the outcome goals of each can be flexible, depending on your schedule. With some of the Chicago schools, we like to use stations for half the club and then finish with rally racer games, as well as seven-point games to prepare players for future Play Days. Schools can use Play Days to wrap up the Kids’ Club season and allow players to demonstrate their new tennis skills. Play Day formats can be adjusted but should use point play in a non-threatening environment. Timed round robins are a great way for players to compete against multiple opponents.
Looking to the future, Chicago is excited about its first Community Tennis Association tennis league that will incorporate Play Days as a way for all programs to come together on a monthly basis and compete. With ages ranging from 6 to 12, players will come together as a team with a coach/teacher to meet new friends and play. Our local league coordinator volunteer will work closely with the other schools and teachers to communicate match dates, responsibility for food to follow and any other social events. We are hoping to have teams also cheer on some local college tennis teams to continue growing these young players’ tennis mindsets.
Through USTA Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Play Days, Chicago is continuing to impact our youth in the district. Because we all have the same passion for the sport we love and a passion for our youth, we are building USTA Kids’ Tennis Clubs and changing futures. With dedication, passion and creativity, we are working with all children in all communities. We are building USTA Kids’ Tennis Clubs everywhere!
Special thanks to Leah Friedman, USTA Chicago District, for contributing to this article.