GROWING THE GAME: COLLABORATIVE AND CREATIVE PROGRAMMING

I recently participated in a wonderful program designed to introduce young children to the game of tennis who might not otherwise have access to equipment, instruction and facilities.

A “kids clinic” was held in conjunction with a major professional ATP tournament held at the tennis center in Delray Beach, Florida. The hour plus long clinic invited groups of children associated with the Kids and Police Tennis Association(KAPTA) and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of the Palm Beaches. KAPTA offers FREE recreation, education and leisure activities to youth ages 5-18 from Jupiter to Boca Raton as far west as Belle Glade. Tennis is the “newest” activity they have added.

Janet Sprague, the local USTA coordinator provided the equipment and materials from the Quick Start Program and UPSTA tennis professional, Michael Baldwin arranged for the USPTA teaching pros. to help out in the clinic. Those pros who gave freely of their times and expertise included David Best, Robin Neuman, Dean Hall, Butch Martin, Frederick Vulpio, Marty Goldhaber, Keith Soifer, Paul Cranis, and Saana Ingram.

More than 60 boys and girls ages 5-16 were divided up by age groups and participated in age appropriate tennis activities. The clinic ended with a game where the kids could hit targets for prizes (hats) and Mike Baldwin found a way to insure every kid came away a winner! After the clinic, some of the kids stayed on to hit informally with their parents, police sponsors and coordinators. Ivan and Mark Baron, the tournament sponsors provided complimentary entrance to the matches and the USPTA pros who volunteered, received a free ticket to the evening session as well.

No doubt, a lot of time and effort was expended to coordinate this program and insure it came off successfully- and it did. It was a win-win situation providing a great community service, building relationships with people and organizations and who knows: maybe exciting a spark in a kid who might end up playing in the main draw of that tournament one day.

To learn more about how you might help out or get involved contact www.kaptaonline.net.

Dr. Robert Heller is a psychologist, sports psychology consultant and USPTA teaching professional based in Boca Raton, Florida. He works with athletes, coaches and parents to help players perform at their best and is the author of the CD-Rom mental training program, “TENNISMIND. He can be reached at www.mentalskillstennis.com

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