The Wait is Over: Tennis in the Parks Returns to Public Courts
WESTBOROUGH, MA – Tennis in the Parks is back in New England. After missing out on 34 of the 38 scheduled spring and summer sessions due to COVID-19, USTA New England has bounced back seamlessly this fall to safely deliver 16 Tennis in the Parks programs throughout the section.
Fall sessions began on Saturday, September 19 and were met with great demand.
“It’s exciting to see how much interest has grown in Tennis in the Parks especially during this time. We filled most of our programs, and in some towns, we went over capacity and created additional sessions to meet the demand. And the most important part is, we’re doing it all safely,” said Eric Driscoll, USTA New England Tennis in the Parks & Schools Manager.
While tennis by nature is a physically distant sport, a maximum of 10 students are permitted per class and social distancing measures are being enforced. Upon arrival, each student receives an age-appropriate Wilson tennis racquet, t-shirt and ball, which is labeled with their initials to minimize foreign contact.
With the necessary precautions in place, students are flocking to the courts to learn and play and get a taste of tennis.
“In this day in age, it’s outside, it’s social and it’s about as healthy a sport as one can play. It’s all the things people can’t do right now in terms of getting good social group exercise, so I think that’s drawing a lot of folks back to the game and bringing new ones in,” said David Sugar, who coaches USTA New England Tennis in the Parks adult and youth programs in Yarmouth, MA.
“I’ve been really bored at home and I want to learn to play new sports. All my friends play tennis and I’m excited for this opportunity. I had so much fun,” said eight-year-old Maria Roncelli, of Yarmouth, after her first week.
Tennis in the Parks launched in 2018 with pilot programs in Manchester, NH and Portland, ME. In its first organized year in 2019, it saw 244 participants over nine New England sites. This fall alone, 341 students are registered for Tennis in the Parks programs, bringing the 2020 total to 451.
USTA New England runs the six-week introductory program on public town courts by partnering with local recreation departments and hiring USTA Net Generation-approved coaches. Four levels are offered this fall: red ball (grades 1-2), orange ball (grades 3-5), green ball (grades 6-8) and adult play. The program is geared towards helping new and beginner players develop skills to serve, rally and score.
“I played tennis in gym class in middle school and just picked it up again after watching my daughter play. It’s been so positive for me, and I look forward to this all week long. I think all of us students look forward to this as a highlight of the week. You feel like a million bucks all day Saturday when you’re done,” said 2020 Yarmouth adult participant, Barbara Burnett.
Tennis in the Parks is Presented by Wilson Sporting Goods.
To view photos from the first week of fall programming in Yarmouth, MA, click here.
To get involved with Tennis in the Parks as a player or coach or to learn more, click here.
With questions, email Eric Driscoll at firstname.lastname@example.org.