10 and Under Tennis is changing the way tennis is played—and taught—throughout the United States. Under the old, traditional system of teaching tennis, kids would line up, hit a tennis ball or two and then move back to the end of the line. But with smaller courts, slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, and lighter and shorter racquets included in the QuickStart Tennis play format, kids are playing soon after they take to the court, all while engaging in a proven aerobic exercise.
"In the past, tennis was like learning the piano," says Dave Miley, Executive Director, Tennis Development, ITF. "You’d have coaches telling you, ‘look, maybe in six months time you’ll get the opportunity to play tennis.’ Well, most people want to know how I can play now. With the slower balls, in the first lesson you can at least get the players hitting back a few balls. And then from there you can teach technique and all that."
In addition to its ramifications for teaching tennis to young players, 10 and Under Tennis
has also opened up a host of opportunities for tennis providers to increase programming at their local facilities—a call to action that will only increase with the impending change to feature the QuickStart Tennis play format as the primary format for 10-and-under tournaments.
"This is an ideal time to add 36- and 60-foot courts to turn your current facility into a 10 and Under Tennis facility," says Virgil Christian, Director, Community Tennis Development, USTA. "Already, providers around the country are building 36- and 60-foot courts to implement the QuickStart Tennis play format, complementing their 78-foot courts and drawing more kids to their programs. And others have incorporated blended lines that allow you to play both 78-foot tennis and 36- or 60-foot tennis on the same court. It’s truly an ideal partnership that serves both local communities and tennis as a whole."
In many ways, the QuickStart Tennis play format employed by 10 and Under Tennis is an ideal fit
for any for recreational, physical education or after-school program. It is easy to set up—10 and Under Tennis can be played in a gym, on a driveway or playground, or even in a dirt field with the help of portable nets (or tape strung between two chairs) and throw-down lines or lines marked with chalk or tape—and introduces kids to tennis in a safe and easy way, all while providing the exercise growing children—and adults—need to stay healthy and fit.
And it makes economic sense as well. The 36- and 60-foot courts attract more kids to a facility, thus increasing demand for tennis programming, particularly during the summer months. And best of all, one 78-foot court can be transformed
into as many as four 36-foot courts, meaning any tennis facility can be converted into a veritable Kids’ Tennis Festival with the help of a few portable nets.
There are also benefits for tennis manufacturers. For decades, tennis players, whether they were 6 years old or 60, had only the option of playing on a 78-foot court with an adult racquet and a yellow tennis ball. The advent of 10 and Under Tennis translates into a new sales market with an expanded demographic, allowing manufacturers to increase business by selling right-sized equipment to younger players and retaining them as customers into adulthood.
"Expanding the awareness of this approach and format for entry-level players is a huge opportunity to not just get more kids in the 6 to 10 age range into our sport (and their families), but also an opportunity to increase revenue per court and revenue overall coming into our industry," Tennis Industry Association President Jon Muir said in an interview with Racquet Sports Industry magazine. "If we can get more kids started and staying in our sport, our core serious player base will continue to grow in the years ahead."