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Kids play and learn with tennis sized right

January 29, 2013 05:06 PM
The U.S. Davis Cup team hosted a 10 and Under Tennis clinic at John Stockton Elementary School.
The U.S. Davis Cup team with Wallace Grissett.
By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wallace Grissett wrote that tennis keeps a person healthy by improving flexibility, making the arms, legs and heart strong and keeping the mind sharp with concentration and focus.
The essay from the 9-year-old Grissett won a county-wide contest for elementary school students in Duval County, Fla., and with it, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in a tennis clinic with the U.S. Davis Cup team.
The U.S. team of Captain Jim Courier, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Bob and Mike Bryan, along with practice partners Jack Sock and Bradley Klahn, in town to play a 2013 Davis Cup first-round tie against Brazil, delighted Grissett and the rest of the kids at John Stockton Elementary School on Tuesday, as they entered the court to chants of "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" from the kids, and then hit tennis balls and answered questions in a private youth tennis clinic featuring the elements of 10 and Under Tennis.
"The kids’ clinic was great," Querrey said. "The kids had fun playing. Maybe they can incorporate some tennis into some PE. Everyone had a great time. It was pretty exciting for the kid who wrote the essay and the school we got to go to and hang out."
Grissett, a fourth grader, started playing 10 and Under Tennis with his parents, Deb and David, when he was 6 years old. 10 and Under Tennis scales the game to the size of the child, with smaller racquets, shorter courts and lighter balls that make tennis easier to learn and more fun for kids.
Deb Grissett, a former collegiate tennis player, set up tennis courts in the family’s driveway and on their quiet street to teach Wallace tennis. She started hitting foam balls to Wallace over a line, before graduating to using a net. It allowed them to rally continuously back and forth, and to help Wallace, like many kids, fall in love with tennis.
"You don’t even need a net to start, you can just hit the ball across a line," Deb said of how she started with Wallace. "Then the kids don’t miss the ball into the net, and you can rally 100 times in a row and kids get success pretty quickly."
Wallace plays tennis four times a week now and competes in tournaments on the traditional 78-foot courts. (10 and Under Tennis utilizes 36- and 60-foot courts.) He is a huge fan of tennis stars of both the present and the past, including of the 13-time Grand Slam champion Bryans. He started the clinic off rallying with Isner and Mike Bryan, both of whom were impressed with the 9-year-old’s ability.
"I felt really excited," Wallace said of playing with the Davis Cup team. "I love tennis. It is fun to play because it makes me active and makes me feel happy. It is fun to watch [the Bryan brothers] because they always win the points and make tennis fun to watch."
The kids at John Stockton started the clinic with some fun and games, balancing balls on their racquets as they ran around obstacles and through hoops, before Isner, Querrey and the Bryans joined them to rally in doubles points before hosting a question-and-answer session.
Isner told the kids the players all felt very lucky to be able to play tennis and travel the world, Querrey said being on the Davis Cup team was so great because you are playing for a team and not just for yourself. And when a girl asked if it was recommended for someone in fifth grade to start playing tennis if she never had before, Mike Bryan stole the words right out of Wallace Grissett’s mouth.
"It is the best sport you can play," he answered. "And you can start at any age."
To learn more about 10 and Under Tennis, please click here. For more news and information about Davis Cup, please visit the Davis Cup homepage.


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