Team Tennis Triumphs Among Mid-Atlantic Juniors
In a sport where it's usually singles or doubles events dominating the courts and tournament scene, for junior tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic Section there’s a new game in town - team events.
Introduced in early-spring as a pilot program to test and evaluate different types of team tennis events, USTA Mid-Atlantic set out to engage youth tennis players at all levels with fun new format events on select weekends. These team tennis events fit into the youth tennis players' already abundant tournament and tennis event schedule and welcome players at any level - from Junior Circuit and school tennis to those in high-level competition.
Team events are different in that they each have a theme, generally take place in one weekend, and players register as individuals and are placed on a team allowing them to make new friends and learn how to build teamwork skills. Most notably, all team events have a strong focus on leadership, character building, and developing good sportsmanship among the participants.
Another unique factor of the team events is that different coaching models are being tested. Some events have adult coaches assigned to teams, and other events players serve as “Captain in Rotation” and support teammates with on-court coaching and leadership.
Gaining the opportunity to not only have a role as a participant but as a captain provides a well rounded experience for participants who have never been in that type of role before. At the end of each event, teams nominate a player for a leadership award called “The Captains Cup” to recognize great sportsmanship.
The first team pilot event took place April 2nd - 3rd and was a great opportunity to begin testing and learning, gaining feedback from players, coaches and parents.
Following each team event, anonymous feedback is collected from all involved and recently a parent shared this about a team event in the spring: “Overall, I think that the team event was a positive experience for my son,” said a parent whose child participated in the Boys 14s L7 team event. “I observed that the team format encouraged a more social experience, as the players interacted more to check results and get info about other players.”
More team events took place in May, July, and August. At the team events, a variety of tennis formats are being offered including single gender college format, mixed singles and doubles, and dominant duos.
Extensive feedback and research have shown that young tennis players want more team events, and in a study published recently in the Journal PLOS ONE, researchers present findings on the association of organized sport participation with mental health difficulties, and the benefit team sport provides among US children and adolescents.
“Tennis is a very lonely sport, the team format was a game changer for the kids because they loved cheering their team members on. I can’t remember the last time we had so much fun at a tournament. My daughter made new friends, and it revived her love for tennis. We hope to participate in all team events,” said a parent whose child participated in the Mixed 14s L4 team event.
More team events are coming up in September and will feature a dominant duo format, meaning each individual participates with a partner and plays singles and doubles. This provides a great opportunity for each player to play with a friend or in some cases be randomly paired and meet a new friend.
Engaging more kids and teens throughout the Mid-Atlantic Section with tennis in a variety of formats, levels, and settings is important to create community, character, and well-being that will last a lifetime. Team events are a critical and needed component. Players make new friends and connections among each other, while learning more about themselves and how they can grow in the sport. To learn more information and register for the September session please visit here. We hope to see you all on the courts soon!
USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.