‘Learn to Play’ tennis program begins Saturday for children from Kindergarten to 6th grade

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:52 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Statistics show almost 24 million Americans play tennis and one area program is trying to increase the number and access to the sport.

Kids, Incorporated and the Alex O’Brien Tennis Foundation, along with the City of Amarillo and Amarillo National Tennis Center are teaming up to offer a program teaching tennis, Learn to Play.

“We understand that tennis feels like it can be a little bit difficult to access, oftentimes people don’t know how to get involved,” said Meaghan Collier, executive director, Alex O’Brien Tennis Foundation.

It’s a four week program offered to kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Coaches for the program are from area high schools and teach children using red ball tennis, which uses a red foam ball, which bounces lower and moves slower in the air, making the game easier for beginners.

Players will also be taught how to hold a racquet, practice hand eye coordination, learn how to hit a forehand, a backhand, a volley and a serve.

Aside from learning tennis skills, the program’s goal is to also teach life skills.

“You do get that team component, but it also gives kids an opportunity to win and then also to lose and to learn how to overcome those obstacles and deal with loss and overcoming that loss and getting back on the court,” said Collier.

She adds there are many health benefits to the sport, as well.

“There was a recent study that was published with the Mayo Clinic, it says that tennis actually adds 9.7 years to your life expectancy,” said Collier.

It keeps children active and fit.

“They’re not gonna stay in front of a computer, they can be outside enjoying the fresh air and really learn how to be confident, learn a new skill and just be involved with other kids and coaches and leaders in the community to help with the sport and build some relationships,” said Jerry Branch, director of programs, Kids, Inc.

Branch says if children find they enjoy the sport and continue, the opportunities are endless

“There’s so many opportunities to move forward, even in your career and even to get scholarships in college or just to play on a team in high school and just get some get some big awards and stuff,” said Branch.

Collier is a tennis player herself and says the sport has done so much for her life,

“I’m so grateful for it and it’s provided me endless amounts of fun, but also it’s providing me a great resource to meet people and to stay active even as an adult and so I just think it’s so important to get kids plugged into that early on,” said Collier.

The first session is this Saturday, April 1, and you must register before.

The registration fee is $55, including four program dates, a shirt, a new tennis racket and an end-of-year medal.

To register, call Kids Inc. at (806) 376-5936.