Tennis in Your Park
October 17, 2018
A core component in growing the game of tennis is getting more people on the court – and keeping them there. USTA Northern’s “Tennis in Your Park” program works to get more adults playing tennis consistently by providing high-quality lessons in their communities.
Originally introduced in 2015, the program has grown rapidly. In its first year, Tennis in Your Park contracted with one community. A couple years later, that number has grown to 12 and sites have been expanded in Minneapolis while the number of participants has jumped from 129 to more than 300. USTA Northern’s Adult Recreational Play Coordinator Kathy Schneider oversees the program and credits communities and instructors for providing a fun, educational environment every session.
“The communities do such a great job getting the word out to their residents – they understand what the needs of their communities are, and how best to connect with them,” Schneider said. ADVERTISEMENT “The instructors are key to providing a positive, learning experience – when players have fun on court, they want to keep playing!” Maintaining and growing a pool of quality instructors is critical to the success of the program. This season, 20 instructors have been hired and trained.
Along with building a pool of dedicated and passionate instructors, the curriculum has been evolving over the last four years. The Net Generation Community program has been adapted to address the specific needs of the Adult player, with an emphasis on instant rally success.
“As a novice instructor, both the training class and Net Generation lesson plan binder were extremely helpful. It was nice to have a detailed lesson plan for each class, if needed,” said instructor Mark Encell. “I followed the lesson plans very closely for the first couple classes and from there on was more comfortable improvising more; but to have them as a reference guide was invaluable.”
Schneider believes there is significant potential for growth. In addition to expanding the Tennis in Your Park Program, instructors can help direct interested players to Adult USTA 2.5 leagues and Mixed 5.5 leagues, as well as indoor play opportunities at facilities in the area.
Instructor Carter Bayne’s focus is on creating an enjoyable, active, and social atmosphere to all the participants in his classes; but he benefits from the positivity as well.
“Every group just seems fantastic in their own way and it really makes me feel inspired about growing and maintaining the fantastic tennis community we have in the Twin Cities,” Bayne said.
Additionally, interest in the sport itself is only one of the reasons behind the burgeoning popularity.
Tennis around the country has grown in popularity due to its health benefits, with more people playing for the cardiovascular workout and social engagement.
“Participants enjoy learning new skills and getting exercise in a welcoming, social, FUN environment right in their community park,” Schneider added. “The Net Generation Community ‘Learn to Play’ curriculum does a great job of promoting early success, with a focus on serve, rally and play.”
As the demand for the program continues to grow, Schneider plans to explore new options to add daytime programs and additional parks.