hosts Net Generation Day
Arthur Kapetanakis | April 16, 2018
The Sloane Stephens Foundation and the USTA hosted a Net Generation Day for more than 400 children on Thursday, April 12, at Centennial High School in Compton, Calif.
Stephens and more than 25 local coaches helped inspire the next generation of tennis greats by teaching over 400 students from kindergarten through fifth grade how tennis can fit into a healthy and active lifestyle.
"I think Net Generation just makes tennis more accessible," said Stephens, who is currently ranked a career-high No. 9 on the WTA Tour. "It steps in and gives you that tool to find free programming, free equipment, the right coaches, safe courts – all those things, all in one."
After an on-court presentation and clinic led by the reigning US Open and Miami Open champion, students were led through four different stations before ending the day with an opportunity to play for prizes. ADVERTISEMENT
The event was a culmination of 10 weeks of tennis programming and an opportunity to reward the kids with competitive games, prizes, giveaways, music and more.
"All the fun things that correlate with tennis, we put all in one and make sure that they really enjoy it," Stephens explained.
Through Net Generation and their relationship with the Sloane Stephens Foundation, each of the 17 attending schools received a free equipment kit filled with racquets and balls so the fun could continue back at school.
It was all part of the Sloane Stephens Foundation's mission to help empower children around the world to dream big and achieve, both on and off the court, and to offer underserved students the additional tools necessary to shine.
The foundation shares Net Generation's goal of encouraging healthy lifestyles, proper nutrition and participation in physical fitness activities.
"It's incredible, and we're just getting started," said Stephens. "We've redone all the blacktops at all the elementary and middle schools, and we lined all the courts so that the kids can play after school, or they can play recess tennis."
Having been playing on non-traditional and kid-sized courts – a staple of the Net Generation campaign – the chance to play on six full-sized courts at Centennial High School was a major highlight for the youngsters in attendance.
Net Generation, the new youth initiative of the USTA, embraces all aspects of youth play for kids ages 5-18. Over the last decade, youth tennis has brought hundreds of thousands of kids into the sport by using shorter courts, lower-bouncing balls and lighter racquets to allow them to play more quickly and easily.
With events like this, and help from superstars like Stephens, that number is sure to rise in the future.