Schools Hold Key
to Tennis Growth
James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | December 12, 2019
NEW HAVEN, CT- The creation of Net Generation more than two years ago revolutionized the way in which USTA delivers tennis. The youth tennis brand introduces young players, parents and tennis providers to the sport in a relatable and engaging way. The changes have made it easier for USTA to work with schools, in turn, opening the door to all students in the U.S.
The concept is not new. Since 1985, the USTA has trained PE teachers to bring tennis into the classroom. But now, Net Generation houses the tools needed to offer a more simplified, fun and impactful approach than ever.
The current edition of the curriculum, unlike any before, breaks down lessons by grade from K-12 and features modifications to each lesson based on a child’s athleticism and ability.
“The previous edition was good, but we’re always trying to build and this is the most effective it’s ever been,” said Tony Stingley, USTA National Manager of School Tennis. ADVERTISEMENT “In the past, if a student wasn’t challenged enough or not as athletic as the rest, the teacher had to figure out how to modify the lesson for them. Now we break that down for them.”
Locally, USTA New England staff, with the support of USTA National, have had great success introducing the curriculum to area teachers through Net Generation School Tennis Workshops. In total, the section has hosted 11 workshops this year.
Now led by Eric Driscoll, USTA New England Schools and Tennis in the Parks Manager, these free workshops detail grade-by-grade lesson plans, introduce PE teachers to the equipment they will receive upon registration and present the local community tennis partner, which will act as the chief resource for the schools.
“Every time we hold one of these workshops, we see the enthusiasm from the PE teachers about bringing tennis to their class,” Driscoll said. “They see the equipment we’re giving them and realize how simplified these lessons really are, and that entices them, even more, to start teaching tennis.”
Upon registering for free as a Net Generation School PE provider and signing on with a school partner, each school receives a brand new Net Generation age-appropriate tennis package, featuring a bag, racquets, balls and accessories.
“We’ve had newly modified equipment for the last 12 years, but some people still don’t know about it and are teaching it the old school way,” Stingley said. “It really starts with having the right equipment. Learning the sport can be both frustrating and challenging for the student and teacher if you don’t have the appropriate equipment. This makes a huge difference.”
Most recently, Driscoll led one of the largest workshops in New England since the program’s inception in New Haven, CT. It featured 50 PE teachers from more than 40 New Haven area schools. Also at the workshop was Mavi Sanchez-Skakle, Executive Director of New HYTEs, a New Haven-based NJTL that serves youths through tennis and education.
New HYTEs signed on with USTA New England as the school partner for New Haven Public Schools and will be working directly with the 40-plus schools and their students.
“To have the ability to give support to PE teachers in our school system is key. It becomes that ripple effect, where we start in the PE classes, then word starts to spread, they talk about it at home and with their friends, and they become excited about learning tennis. We’re building on levels that we didn’t have available before. It’s a game changer,” said Sanchez-Skakle.
She also emphasized the importance of new equipment for these schools.
“A few years ago, New HYTEs had its first school workshop to introduce tennis, and I learned quickly that there were 20 schools sharing the same bag of equipment and teachers would pick it up from each other’s facilities to share,” Sanchez-Skakle recalled. “Over 40 schools will now all have access to great new equipment that looks cool. Kids will be more excited and engaged, and teachers won’t have to drive across the city chasing one bag. For me, this has been years in the making thinking, and we’re thrilled to be part of it.”
As a school partner, Sanchez-Skakle will work with the schools to help place interested students in follow-up programs as well as offer full scholarships to select students to New HYTEs.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to get racquets and balls in as many kids’ hands as possible from a young age and it starts with the schools. We all know the impact tennis can have on their lives, from improving confidence, mental toughness and sportsmanship, among others. We are just trying to deliver it in a way that’s fun and relatable so they remember that positive experience.”
In 2019, USTA New England has trained 330 PE teachers and community partners throughout more than 130 schools and organizations.
For photos from the November workshop in New Haven, click here.
To learn more or to register as a school PE provider, email Driscoll at: email@example.com.