Winter Junior Team Tennis a Hit
Over the course of the pandemic, a lot of things have changed. One thing that has not changed is the desire to continue playing tennis. That’s why Janet Glaser, Coordinator of USTA Kansas Junior Team Tennis (JTT) leagues, wanted to make sure that there were still opportunities for kids in the area to get out and play. The USTA Kansas Junior Team Tennis league ran Jan. 2 until Feb. 6, and it went off without a hitch.
“It turned out pretty neat,” Glaser said. “JTT is comprised of high school kids that just love to play tennis, and it’s pretty much run by the kids. I was the only adult there, and every team knew where to report to.”
Matches were played at Riverside on Saturdays from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m., with as little congregating as possible. A system was worked out where players would report to their courts and play girls’ singles and boys’ doubles first. Then, after reporting scores they would swap and play boys’ singles and girls’ doubles. Finally, they would move on for the mixed doubles.
“There was no down time, kids were constantly on court and then we’d shift out the teams and put the next set on,” Glaser said.
There were plenty of safety procedures that were observed, including the use of personal tennis balls. Players would only use their own balls, making sure not to touch those that belonged to the other players.
“We kept it as safe as we could,” Glaser said. “Masks were worn until they went onto their courts, where they had the option to wear it or not.”
Glaser wanted to make sure the league could still operate to give kids an opportunity to get on the court outside of their high school seasons.
“It’s very competitive, but less stressful than their high school season,” she said. “They could meet new people and make new friends, could laugh on-court, they even talked some friendly smack. The atmosphere is truly fun and joyful.”
The league consisted of eight teams, with two boys and two girls on each. Players from all around the area came to play, including El Dorado, Kingman, Newton, Winfield and multiple high schools around Wichita.
In the end, the league was one of the most competitive that Glaser could imagine. The top-four teams were separated by just eight games. The first place team won 207 games, while the fourth place team won 199.
“Every game was important,” she said. “You may have lost 1-8, but that one game may have put you into first place.”
Glaser had also put together the Summer Junior Team Tennis league this year, giving her some experience in operating a league during COVID.
“We knew how to run it, and the kids were pretty used to it,” she said. “The girls had just come off of their seasons, so they knew the requirements.”
Overall, the league went well, and it gave players an opportunity to continue playing while remaining safe.
“We wanted to get as many kids as we could, because we’ve got a lot that want to play,” Glaser said. “It’s a fun thing for them, they’re good, and they want to get out there and go at it.”