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2011 Year in Review: 10 and Under Tennis

December 1, 2011 04:20 PM
The largest youth initiative in USTA history, 10 and Under Tennis, scales the game to size for its youngest players, with shorter courts, slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, and lighter and shorter racquets. In 2011, this initiative was unveiled in full to tennis providers—clubs, parks and recreation agencies, etc.—and to consumers through a series of national and local programs, as well as through the new 10andUnderTennis.com, meeting with rave reviews all around. Moreover, 10 and Under Tennis made headway with racquets and balls geared just for kids now available in stores throughout the country, and more and more parents and kids are playing tennis at home, be it on driveways, playgrounds or any improvised court.
In all, more than 3,000 courts for kids 10 and Under were constructed in 2011, either through blended lines (lines for 36- and/or 60-foot courts laid down on top of a traditional 78-foot court) or stand-alone 36- or 60-foot courts; more than 20,000 Play Days were held to introduce kids to tennis in a fun, engaging, low-pressure setting; more than 4,000 providers registered on 10andUnderTennis.com; and more than 7,000 participants registered to learn the best practices to teach kids the game through the USTA’s QuickStart Tennis Workshops.
To support the USTA’s campaign to introduce more kids to the game of tennis, the organization promoted 10 and Under Tennis throughout the nation at unique events.
During Tennis Night in America on February 24, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl played on a special court at Madison Square Garden for the BNP Paribas Showdown. On national television, the legends played their matches on a 78-foot regulation court with 60-foot blended lines, showcasing the importance of the 10 and Under Tennis format on one of sport’s biggest stages at the world’s most famous arena.
On April 25, the USTA set up shop on the South Lawn of the White House for its annual White House Easter Egg Roll. The theme of this year’s Easter Egg Roll was ‘Get Up and Go!,’ which focused on promoting health and wellness and encouraging children to lead healthy and active lives, all part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which is a national effort to combat childhood obesity. The Easter Egg Roll is the largest annual public event at the White House and tennis was one of the sports chosen to be showcased this year. Children received instruction on the 10 and Under Tennis court from USTA tennis professionals as well as tennis stars Chris Evert, Katrina Adams, Mal Washington and Chanda Rubin. But the court’s biggest visit of the day came from President Obama, who stepped onto the 36-foot court to hit a few balls with some lucky children with help from Evert and Adams.
In May, USTA began a 15-city mobile tour of SmashZone, the premiere fan interactive attraction at the US Open. The SmashZone Mobile tour stopped at fairs and festivals around the country, including Atlanta, Ga., Denver, Col. and Joplin, Miss. At each stop, the tour set up four kid-sized tennis courts for youth play and other interactive activities for visitors, including a Tennis Magazine Green Screen Cover Shoot, Wii Tennis and Touch Screen Kiosks. SmashZone participants were able to try their skills on any of the four 10 and Under Courts, and take what they learned to their local tennis courts.
One of the most exciting stops the SmashZone Mobile tour made was at Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, September 24 in Washington, D.C. While Nickelodeon’s networks and websites went dark from 12 to 3 p.m. to inspire kids and families to get out and play, kids, athletes and celebrities showed up in Washington to participate in the many sports and activities the network had set up, including SmashZone Mobile. The inflatable 10 and Under Tennis caravan took up 20,000 square feet with four courts, including a 60-foot version where basketball All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Paul tried their hands at tennis. The World Wide Day of Play celebration in Washington indeed served as an all-encompassing kids activity expo, with Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL) and US Youth Soccer amongst the sporting bodies present. Sprinkled into the day were appearances from the casts of Nick shows such as iCarly, Victorious, True Jackson VP, Supah Ninjas and Bucket & Skinner’s Epic Adventures, along with musical performances by Fresh Beat Band and Big Time Rush.
To further promote her Let’s Move! initiative to battle childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama visited SmashZone on Day 12 of the 2011 US Open. She played some 10 and Under Tennis with a group of kids from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, along with tennis stars Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, James Blake, Katrina Adams, Mal Washington and USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen, promoting tennis as a great way for children to stay active and healthy. Then she took in some pro tennis on the big court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
10 and Under Tennis will only grow bigger and better in the coming year. The local investment markets, where the USTA is dedicating time and money to grow 10 and Under Tennis, will expand from 26 to 40-plus, and the roles of tournaments will shift with the implementation of a rule change passed by the USTA and the ITF mandating that all tournament competition for kids 10 and under must be played using the rules and regulations of 10 and Under Tennis.


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