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Sun, Jan. 26

Column: You're never too young to start early

Earlier this month there was an organizational meeting to consider a new United States Tennis Association-sanctioned tennis program for kids 5 to 10 years old called QuickStart Tennis.Now is a great time to start this worthwhile tennis program in Prescott. With more than 1,000 additional sites around the United States doing the same, thousands of new young players will get a feel for this fun-filled lifelong sport.This new format features smaller courts, racquets, net heights, lighter low compression balls, easier scoring and a shorter number of games. It's all in an effort to help kids learn and play the game of tennis, much like many other popular youth sports. Dillon Amadio, 8, and my son, Lleyton Howard, 6, joined forces with Sterling, 7, and Eliana Armesto, 8, to demonstrate how fun and easy it is for little kids to play this scaled down game.Within 10 minutes of hitting the low compression-lighter balls over a smaller court area and lower net, these kids were having rallies, laughing and believe it or not ... playing tennis.For kids 5 to 7 years old, four smaller tennis courts fit onto one normal sized court (18 x 36'), while the 8 to 10 year olds play on a regular sized court that is shortened by nine feet on each side (60 x 21').This seven-week tennis league will be on Saturday mornings at Prescott High School with an hour allotted for each team's practice and match. Practice plus the balance of time playing their match takes about 30 minutes. All teams will have volunteer coaches and assistants (mostly parents) and there will be a short training seminar Friday, April 11, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. to demonstrate easy drills for the kids.The Millie Ryan Trust Fund purchased four sets of the smaller nets and if more are needed to make up an additional court of four more, they, too, will arrive.It's been a great endeavor of cooperation, with a nod of approval from the Prescott Unified School District, Prescott Parks and Recreation, the Prescott YMCA, the Prescott Racquet Club, Prescott Area Tennis Association and the Millie Ryan Tennis Trust board.Applications are available at all Prescott elementary schools, the PRC, the YMCA, Grace Sparks Activity Center or the Yavapai College tennis facility.The bottom line is that finally a tennis league for younger kids has arrived to acquaint them with a beneficial sport to impact the rest of their lives.(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or choward4541@q.com)
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