Learning tennis at a young age builds the foundation for playing a lifelong sport, and the St. Charles Park District helps children starting at age 4 develop those skills – and a love for the game.
Located at both Pottawatomie Community Center and Norris Recreation Center, tennis instructors meet children at their level, helping them learn and progress age appropriately.
New this summer at Pottawatomie is Red Ball Elite for ages 4-7 and Orange Ball Elite for ages 8-10 to further develop and hone skills, ideal for children who want to up their level of play.
Offered through MTL Tennis Management, other lessons at Pottawatomie include options for ages 4-17, from Red Ball for the littlest players to develop agility, basic movement patterns and volleying, to Jr. Development 2 to focus on complex coordination, understanding game situations and experience playing singles and doubles match-play.
New this summer at Norris is a match-play league for youth with other clubs in the area, according to Norris Tennis Pro Supervisor Bill Dahm. Eligible for those enrolled in Challengers Plus and up, players will have the opportunity to apply their skills from lessons in match-play scenarios.
The Norris match-play league is in addition to lessons for children through high school ages, from Hot Shots to learn basic techniques to Challengers to experience game-like drills and further develop techniques, up to Tournament Training.
Both Pottawatomie and Norris tennis programs use specially-designed equipment for younger players. Norris’ summer lessons are held at St. Charles East High School outdoor courts; Pottawatomie’s lessons are held outdoor in the park. Both facilities have access to indoor facilities in the case of inclement weather.
There are numerous physical benefits to playing tennis at any age, but for children in particular, the game provides aerobic and cardiovascular exercise, hand-eye coordination, flexibility, gross and fine motor coordination, balance and bone strength.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Playing tennis goes beyond the physical aspect of the game, setting children up for lifelong skills that can be applied on and off the court.
“When you first start out in group lessons, you are learning to socialize, make friends and take turns,” Dahm said. “Then when you start competing, you learn to rely on yourself and what you need to do to win the match.”
He added: “A lot of playing tennis is conditioning, and developing a player that moves well, is thoughtful and strategic, and can control their emotions. Tennis builds those great attributes for playing sports, and for life, in general.”
But above all, the main goal is for children to have fun.
“Tennis at Pottawatomie offers a positive introduction to tennis, to help build confidence and a love for the game, but most importantly, we want kids to have fun,” said Megan Hatheway, Athletic Supervisor.
For children just starting out, or seeking one-on-one training, Pottawatomie and Norris offer private lessons.
Norris has a long history of providing tennis to the community. The facility dates back to 1975, and along the way, instructors have seen players develop into tennis athletes in high school and college.
“We have had kids who have started here, progressed through high school and played in college. Seeing those kids grow up on the court is pretty neat,” said Dahm, who has worked for Norris since 2005.
For more information about MTL tennis at Pottawatomie, visit www.stcparks.org or call 630-584-1885.
For more information about the Norris tennis program, visit www.norrisrec.org or call Bill Dahm at 630-377-1407.
All programs are subject to COVID-19 restrictions.