Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Tennis Pathway (New England And Beyond)

   Tennis begins in different ways and at different times for a many people.  The road taken also varies greatly. What I intend to show here is the tennis pathway from the very earliest stages to the absolute highest pinnacle of the game.

In the beginning the idea is to simply get young kids into a tennis atmosphere to have fun with parents, siblings, and friends.  Using foam balls and small racquets, they can begin quite early to enjoy a little friendly competition, while unknowingly learning things like hand, foot, eye, coordination.  The key for these little aces is to have fun with age appropriate tools and little to no instruction.  Being taught is only fun when you want to be taught.  They most likely aren't interested in that just yet.

Kids wanting more is key.  Helping them off the court before they themselves want to put a lid on the activities is sometimes a good idea.  And if it appears they are done,  you should get out of there fast, making sure not to push it.  This could be in as little as ten minutes on up to approximately 30 minutes.  There is a much better chance for those eyes to light up the next time a tennis outing is mentioned if you wrap it up at the right time.

Years go by and their skills improve dramatically and automatically.  The instruction they get has become natural.  They can begin to receive more instruction, with more repetition, but still, not too much.  Realizing that things grow little by little over many years is important.  Over fertilizing the garden does the opposite of the intended result.  They must continue to have competition.  They must continue to play games.  They are now Junior Aces moving ever closer to becoming Junior tennis players.

 Maybe it is time to seek out more organized competition.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) could be part of their next step but should also be combined with many local fun singles and doubles matches.  In the New England section, the website is http://www.newengland.usta.com - they have organized tennis tournaments for junior players beginning under age ten and progressing all the way to age eighteen.  Many players take this entire journey.  It is part of the pathway.

The USTA Junior begins in his or her section, and from there they earn points, leading to higher rankings within New England.  If the players excel in their section, the possibility is there for them to compete on a national level.

The journey continues.....   High school tennis might then be combined with USTA.  A team dynamic allows players to organize around a common set of objectives using the different strengths and skill sets of each individual.  The options are many and some bypass high school tennis in favor of staying focused on a more elevated level of competition.  Others may leave the USTA juniors, and are happy just enjoying and benefitting from their high school team.

College tennis may be next.  We know that one good reason for having kids focus on tennis in the teen years is that it limits the possibilities of going down negative pathways.  Is college any different?  If they can get on a college tennis team by doing well in the USTA juniors, then they will probably have more success in college and beyond.  Getting on a college tennis team is so very important.  USTA juniors are over.  High school is over.  Continuing with tennis will keep yielding more.  They will form relationships with similarly achieving young adults and these friendships can last for life.

Finally, If all the stars are in alignment, being a professional tennis player is out there, yet seems to elude most who attempt such heights.  It rarely happens, but nothing is impossible.  Many players that get to a high national level, require higher levels of practice competition.  Some of these kids will move to Florida or other southern states, with warmer weather and a denser population of highly ranked national USTA and ITF (International Tennis Federation) players.

 Those with the capability of entering professional tennis might choose to postpone college, while others will attend and ultimately go on to enjoy pro careers after the college experience is complete.

The tennis pathway connects to many successful roads and the garden yields an abundance of tremendous opportunity.

They say it is a game for life, and on so many levels, tennis keeps on giving.

All the best,

Kerry  413.559.1370  backyardtennispro@gmail.com

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