Imagine children wearing brightly colored T-shirts, scurrying on pint-sized tennis courts to slower-bouncing balls with kid-sized rackets in their hands. Or imagine them laughing, learning tennis, but using props like koosh balls, beach balls, targets and baskets to play games like player favorite “alligator alley.”
If you can imagine that, you’re seeing what 10 and Under Tennis looks like – and Findlay program organizers Bryan and Maria Little will tell you, it’s a blast.
“When we saw what it looked like for the first time ever, we said, ‘We’ve got to do this in Findlay,’ ” said Bryan Little, President of the Findlay Tennis Association. “The reason they do it this way is to help kids be successful. With the smaller rackets, smaller balls and smaller courts, it’s comparable to how kids start off playing soccer. We knew the kids would love it.”
Ten and Under Tennis – called Youth Team Tennis in Findlay – is a program through the United States Tennis Association. Not only does it make tennis kid-sized, but it breaks components of the sport into fun games that help kids learn important skills.
Many have tried and failed to bring a program like Youth Team Tennis to Findlay over the years, but the Littles were finally able to form successful partnerships and get the ball rolling this summer through the FTA and USTA. Both are avid tennis players and wanted to enrich the possibilities for kids to learn the sport in Findlay, even though their own kids are older.
“It was an underdeveloped area in Findlay, period,” said Maria Little, who is also secretary of the FTA. “Really the only (available tennis programs) kid-wise were private lessons. There was nothing to facilitate bringing everyone together.”
The 8-session program attracted 40 kids this summer, and the Littles plan to run another in November at the East Branch of the YMCA. They also hope to eventually extend into older age brackets to provide still more tennis opportunities for kids.
“The first night when we launched the program, after all of that hard work, to see it all come to fruition, and the volunteers and the kids, it was just awesome,” Bryan said. “I got choked up. It was amazing.”
Findlay Youth Team Tennis:
When: Tentative start date for Nov. 4
Who: Kids entering grades 1-6
Time: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: East Branch,
Cost: $65 per child. Participants will receive a team T-shirt, age appropriate tennis racket and ball, 1-year USTA Junior Membership, subscription to Bounce or SMASH Magazine, Ace’s Kids Club Package including a nylon backpack, activity book, birthday card and other fun tennis items. Repeat
players in the program will
receive a backpack in place of
a tennis racket.
Registration: Opening date to be announced, close date will be Oct. 11. Registrants can visit
MidwestTeamTennis.com to sign up.
Questions: Bryan Little at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your child is younger than 1st grade but you feel they may be able to participate in the program, send an email.
Visit www.10andundertennis.com; www.findlaytennisassociation.com
Find them on Facebook too!