USTA New England Delivers
Tennis in the Parks
James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | September 20, 2019
WESTBOROUGH, MA- Two years ago, public youth tennis did not exist in the two largest cities in Maine and New Hampshire. Both Portland, ME and Manchester, NH ran numerous sports programs through their parks and recreation departments, but no tennis.
It wasn’t until the United States Tennis Association (USTA) of New England partnered with the two cities to form “pilot programs,” that youth tennis became a public entity. USTA New England’s Schools and Tennis in the Parks Manager, Eric Driscoll, identified and hired coaches, chose locations and worked out the details for each site. From there, the programs took off. Now called Tennis in the Parks, these youth programs are gaining traction drawing more community members each season.
“We developed and are offering the Tennis in the Parks program to solve a common need that many of our parks and recreation departments face, which is finding and holding onto quality tennis instructors that can deliver consistent, quality, and fun ‘learn and play tennis’ programs,” said Driscoll.ADVERTISEMENT
USTA New England works closely with the Park and Recreation departments to run the programs. The goal is to have children have fun while learning to play tennis by participating in activities where they can achieve success. No lines, no waiting.
“The transition to tennis has been seamless. We have gone from having no program to consistently running three seasonal programs for two years now. Our numbers have increased over time and our community is happy to have tennis being offered by our Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with USTANE,” said Nick Cliche, Recreation Supervisor for Portland Parks and Recreation. “It is another great offering we can give our community to support active youth, and our instructors and volunteers have made the program run effectively and efficiently.”
Tennis in the Parks is geared towards helping new and beginner players ages 6-14 develop skills to serve, rally and score. Players are broken up by age: red ball (grades 1-2), orange ball (grades 3-5) and green ball (grades 6-8). The standard six-week tennis program uses the Net Generation curriculum to teach activities that lead to a fun play opportunity on the last day of the program called the Team Challenge.
All players in the program receive a t-shirt, an age-appropriate ball, and a tennis racquet, which is for them to keep.
“For us as a department, we have enjoyed being able to offer a program like this. USTA New England has been supportive in every aspect of the program,” said Erik Bukowski, Recreation Supervisor, Manchester Parks and Recreation. “Youth tennis is something we haven’t done before, and so far, it has been a success. I can’t wait to continue to build this program with USTA New England and continue to offer an affordable tennis program to the citizens of Manchester.”
Due to the success of the programs in Maine and New Hampshire, Tennis in the Parks has expanded to nine locations throughout five New England states. There are 212 players to date.
To learn more about Tennis in the Parks, click here.
If you’re interested in starting or joining a Tennis in the Parks program in New England, contact Eric Driscoll.