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FAMILY FUN: Find a new love with tennis

Kentville kids Chase, Helaina and Lauren Nichols are learning to play tennis this summer through the CANgaroo tennis camps. 
Kentville kids Chase, Helaina and Lauren Nichols are learning to play tennis this summer through the CANgaroo tennis camps. 

 “Tennis is a game you can play for life. It is the original social network!” says Diana Baldwin, president of the Wolfville Tennis Club. 

There are many opportunities this summer - and during the rest of the year - for youth to learn to play tennis. To get the lowdown on tennis, I talked to a couple coaching experts in the area.

There isn't a set-in-stone ideal age to play tennis. Many people learn as adults, while others start as children.

With appropriately-sized equipment and decompressed balls, however, kids as young as five can play tennis, says Joseph Memet from Annapolis Valley Tennis.

This is known as the progressive tennis system. Younger children play on smaller courts with lower nets and racquets sized to fit them. The balls are also decompressed so they don't fly so far when hit, says Baldwin. It’s much easier for kids to learn the game this way.

Besides learning to play tennis, youth gain so much more from the experience.

Youth learn how to independently solve problems and think outside the box. It’s a unique sport that requires free thinking.

“On a tennis court during competitions,” says Aaron Cumberland, executive director of CANgaroo Tennis, “kids cannot ask for help from the coaches or parents. They are completely on their own.”

Tennis is a game of traditions, etiquette and respect.

“This sounds a little old fashioned,” says Baldwin, “but these things are often forgotten.”

Baldwin says in a match the player must keep score, make line calls fairly, plan strategy, deal with nerves and shake hands graciously at the end. Sportsmanship is something taught early on in tennis.

Memet says tennis is also a sport that improves fundamental movement skills, agility, balance, co-ordination and speed.

Tennis is a phenomenal fitness routine as it targets all major muscle groups and has equal lower and upper body demands, says Cumberland.

Lastly, tennis is a much cheaper sport than other sports and has no off-season!

“Tennis is one of the very few sports in the world where it operates all year long with competitions,” says Cumberland.

Cumberland cautions, though, that children shouldn’t specialize in one sport too soon. He says youth need to experience different sports, even if tennis is their main sport.

Sylvia Berrey of Kentville agrees. Her six-year-old son, Will, plays with CANgaroo tennis.

“I like him to play many different sports so he finds one or more that he loves and will hopefully be active his whole live,” she says.

For parents who want to have their children try tennis, there are several options in the Valley. A list of these can be found on the Valley Family Fun website under Get Moving, Tennis.

Wherever you go, Baldwin suggests finding a good club with a properly-trained instructor who has experience teaching children with the progressive tennis system.

But the best way to instill a love of tennis with your kids is to get out and play it yourself. Memet says tennis is a family sport that parents and kids can play together.

“There are no court fees in the Valley,” says Cumberland, “so it’s all free.”

Beginner racquets are very cheap and tennis is a great way to connect families together, he adds.

Children love playing tennis too. Six-year-old Chase Nichols, of Kentville, says he loves tennis because they play fun games and sometimes get a treat. His sister, Helaina, eight, loves how the coaches make learning tennis fun.

There are tennis lessons and camps all summer for all ages from youth to adult, so get out there and try it. You might just find a new love!

Laura Churchill Duke’s (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) sons are starting to get into the swing of tennis and love how fun it is to play! 

There are many opportunities this summer - and during the rest of the year - for youth to learn to play tennis. To get the lowdown on tennis, I talked to a couple coaching experts in the area.

There isn't a set-in-stone ideal age to play tennis. Many people learn as adults, while others start as children.

With appropriately-sized equipment and decompressed balls, however, kids as young as five can play tennis, says Joseph Memet from Annapolis Valley Tennis.

This is known as the progressive tennis system. Younger children play on smaller courts with lower nets and racquets sized to fit them. The balls are also decompressed so they don't fly so far when hit, says Baldwin. It’s much easier for kids to learn the game this way.

Besides learning to play tennis, youth gain so much more from the experience.

Youth learn how to independently solve problems and think outside the box. It’s a unique sport that requires free thinking.

“On a tennis court during competitions,” says Aaron Cumberland, executive director of CANgaroo Tennis, “kids cannot ask for help from the coaches or parents. They are completely on their own.”

Tennis is a game of traditions, etiquette and respect.

“This sounds a little old fashioned,” says Baldwin, “but these things are often forgotten.”

Baldwin says in a match the player must keep score, make line calls fairly, plan strategy, deal with nerves and shake hands graciously at the end. Sportsmanship is something taught early on in tennis.

Memet says tennis is also a sport that improves fundamental movement skills, agility, balance, co-ordination and speed.

Tennis is a phenomenal fitness routine as it targets all major muscle groups and has equal lower and upper body demands, says Cumberland.

Lastly, tennis is a much cheaper sport than other sports and has no off-season!

“Tennis is one of the very few sports in the world where it operates all year long with competitions,” says Cumberland.

Cumberland cautions, though, that children shouldn’t specialize in one sport too soon. He says youth need to experience different sports, even if tennis is their main sport.

Sylvia Berrey of Kentville agrees. Her six-year-old son, Will, plays with CANgaroo tennis.

“I like him to play many different sports so he finds one or more that he loves and will hopefully be active his whole live,” she says.

For parents who want to have their children try tennis, there are several options in the Valley. A list of these can be found on the Valley Family Fun website under Get Moving, Tennis.

Wherever you go, Baldwin suggests finding a good club with a properly-trained instructor who has experience teaching children with the progressive tennis system.

But the best way to instill a love of tennis with your kids is to get out and play it yourself. Memet says tennis is a family sport that parents and kids can play together.

“There are no court fees in the Valley,” says Cumberland, “so it’s all free.”

Beginner racquets are very cheap and tennis is a great way to connect families together, he adds.

Children love playing tennis too. Six-year-old Chase Nichols, of Kentville, says he loves tennis because they play fun games and sometimes get a treat. His sister, Helaina, eight, loves how the coaches make learning tennis fun.

There are tennis lessons and camps all summer for all ages from youth to adult, so get out there and try it. You might just find a new love!

Laura Churchill Duke’s (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) sons are starting to get into the swing of tennis and love how fun it is to play! 

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