ORGANIZER OF THE MONTH
USTA Eastern | December 18, 2017
Each month, USTA Eastern selects one passionate advocate who has made unique contributions within the community through tennis. This particular Long Island “organizer” is an early adopter of the Net Generation program and his work is a stellar example of how easy it is to add tennis to any elementary physical education curriculum. His leadership and initiative inspires us and we are thrilled to share his approach and programming with you.
Tennis Organizer of the Month: December 2017
When Christopher MacDonald, a physical education teacher at Deasy Elementary School in Glen Cove, N.Y., learned about the USTA’s new brand for youth tennis, he knew Net Generation would be great for his school while helping fulfill his ultimate objective. MacDonald has coached the Glen Cove High School Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Tennis teams for years and wanted a find a way to bring tennis into his work with his elementary school students.ADVERTISEMENT
“The idea of teaching the Deasy Kindergartern, First and Second Graders, kids I could potentially coach on my future tennis teams at the high school, was an exciting prospect for me,” said MacDonald. “Net Generation seemed like it could bridge that gap, gaining me early access to these students so I can inspire them to consider and learn about the sport I love so much.”
The Net Generation curriculum is a great tool for bringing tennis into school settings. With shorter racquets and lower-bouncing balls, tennis can now be taught in smaller open spaces. A court and a net are no longer needed to effectively teach the sport’s fundamentals. In fact, school gymnasiums are a perfect and safe venue for teaching tennis to beginners.
“Tennis is a whole body sport and is an excellent tool for teaching hand/eye and foot/eye coordination, which is an important skill we aim to develop through our physical education classwork. Coupled with the agility and short bursts of speed that are fundamental parts of tennis play, tennis offers a fun way for us to teach these important skills that kids will need as they get older and want to play competitive sports. “
MacDonald and his colleagues across all four elementary schools in the Glen Cove City School District are now teaching tennis as part of the district’s elementary school physical education curriculum, either in gym classes or free clinics that the district offers after school. Through USTA’s Net Generation platform and the USTA Eastern section, MacDonald was able to procure tons of free tennis equipment, including pop-up nets, low-bouncing balls and racquets sized right for five- to ten-year-olds.
“With this great equipment, all the kids are having a blast playing the sport,” said MacDonald. “To see the kids’ faces when they are able to successfully get the ball over the net, or keep a ball in play and hold a rally -- I’ve never seen so many smiles.”
With the help of Neil Thakur, USTA Eastern’s Long Island Tennis Service Representative, and Hillary Bressler of the Robbie Wagner Tournament Training Center, MacDonald led a three-hour tennis workshop on Tuesday, November 7 during the district’s annual Superintendent’s Day. Thirteen physical education and health teachers had the opportunity to try out the tennis equipment, learn how to integrate Net Generation’s user-friendly tennis curriculum and play some fun tennis games that they can facilitate with their students.
“It was such a valuable experience for all of us,” said MacDonald. “We had so much fun doing the workshop. Some teachers were trying the smaller equipment we received from the USTA for the first time and played some intense tennis points. And many teachers were surprised that they could easily get a rally going."
A talented athlete who made the varsity soccer and wrestling teams as a freshman, MacDonald wanted to play a spring sport for his high school, and gave tennis a try in 10th Grade. He found out that he loved tennis most of all, and went on to play for Nassau Community College where he earned the distinction of Junior College All-American. MacDonald then played college tennis for Mount Saint Vincent, where he played first singles.
“The biggest thing that I point out to my students is that tennis is a lifetime sport,” said MacDonald. “All you really need is one other friend to play. You just grab a friend, go to a park, get on a tennis court, and you can play for hours. It's an activity that you can enjoy your entire life, if you find that it’s fun for you.”
Through a close partnership with USTA Eastern and the extraordinary leadership of MacDonald, hundreds of elementary students have had the opportunity to try tennis through the school district’s programming.
Visit Net Generation to learn more or to find out how you can obtain free tennis curriculum and equipment.