Any player who is ready to hit the courts come spring will have a big advantage over those who have spent the winter months being couch potatoes. Thanks to beginner and intermediate level lessons available held inside at the St. Charles Park District’s Pottawatomie Community Center during February and March, students from ages 4 to 17 will definitely learn to feel the love as they perfect their game-day skills.
“One goal of these courses is to fine-tune tennis skills so players are ready to move outside when spring comes,” said Melissa Caine, Athletics Supervisor.
Tennis is the type of sport that’s good to have in one’s wheelhouse. A great game to play with family and friends, it’s also a perfect sport for making new friends through league play on the local level or impromptu pick-up games while traveling. Best yet, it’s a sport that never gets old – although its players might. Age is definitely not a limiting factor when it comes to one of the so-called “sport of kings.”
That tennis journey can begin for children from ages 4 to 10 with classes that utilize specially-designed equipment perfectly suited for smaller hands and bodies. The “Red Ball 1 and 2” classes work with an oversized tennis ball but standard-sized racquet to help beginners master skills such as forehand and backhand strokes as well as “drop-hit” serves and volleys. Play takes place in the Pottawatomie Community Center gym where smaller court dimensions and a lower net also help students learn the sport in a manageable space.
Once students have mastered the two “Red Ball” levels, they can progress to the “Orange Ball” lessons, where the focus expands to include agility, coordination and balance skills as well as instruction on movement patterns and court positioning.
When students are ready to tackle traditional play, they can enroll in the “Jr. Development 1” program. Designed for middle and high school players based on age and ability, students will further work on perfecting basic skills and the intricacies of court play, including scoring and strategy.
Students are guided under the tutelage of MTL Tennis Management and director Mike Lange.
Lange, who was inducted into the US Professional Tennis Association’s Midwest Division Hall of Fame in 2011, has been a USPTA member since 1985. His staff of college- and high school-age instructors is trained in Lange’s philosophy for success and creates a curriculum that emphasizes fun as well as skill improvement.
“I’ve watched the lessons Mike and his staff offer and they really make an effort to keep the kids moving and having fun while learning,” said Caine. “And because they are playing on a court that’s more proportionally appropriate, they can get immediate positive feedback on how they’re doing.”
The winter curriculum takes place in six-week sessions with both late afternoon/early evening sessions on Thursdays and morning/afternoon sessions on Saturdays to accommodate most family schedules. And for those who may not be ready to go all-in on the sport and invest in necessary equipment, the park district has tennis racquets available for students to borrow.
“Let us know if you’d like to take advantage of this when you register, and we’ll see that a racquet is held aside,” said Caine.
For more information about the February and March schedule of beginner and intermediate tennis lessons at Pottawatomie Community Center, contact Melissa Caine at 630-513-4336