Hitchcock Park considering adding lines for youth playersThe Mitchell Tennis Association and Mitchell Park and Recreation want to improve the way its tennis courts are set up at Hitchcock Park to accommodate some of its younger players.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Tennis Association and Mitchell Park and Recreation want to improve the way its tennis courts are set up at Hitchcock Park to accommodate some of its younger players.
Mitchell tennis assistant coach Chad Larson said that hopefully in the near future, an additional set of inside lines will be drawn on the courts at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell so kids 10 and younger have a smaller court to play on. He said a specific date has not been set for the project yet, but he’s hoping it will happen toward the end of the summer.
Chris Dummermuth, a South Dakota tennis service representative for the United States Tennis Association, said coaches and tennis instructors have long been making adjustments for younger players, but now there is equipment and methods to make it easier for kids to enjoy the game of tennis at a younger age. The program is called 10 and Under Tennis and is being taught in tennis clubs and leagues all over South Dakota.
“The 10 and under clinic has been sized right for younger kids. Just like with baseball or soccer where you have a smaller playing field which is appropriate for the child, the same thing is happening in tennis now with improved equipment which allows for more success early on,” Dummermuth said.
“Now the equipment has come out that makes it so much easier for the child to develop their tennis skills. We have decompressed balls so the ball doesn’t jump over their heads and the kids are able to rally sooner. That’s a lot more fun for the kids instead of only being able to hit the ball once. It’s not an entirely new concept — it’s just we finally have all the pieces now.”
In addition to the decompressed balls, the smaller tennis court size will help younger tennis players catch on to the rules and techniques of tennis more quickly.
Larson said the reason why Mitchell wants to be a part of this new program is because it will benefit the high school program and help younger players have fun playing tennis.
“To be competitive in high school tennis, boys and girls need instruction early,” he said. “It’s hard to be competitive with the best schools at the high school level if you don’t start playing tennis at a young age. Mitchell has had some fantastic individual tennis players but (this program) will help build a stronger, more solid team of tennis players that grow together and stay together.”
Dummermuth said the 10 and Under Tennis program has been the United State Tennis Association’s initiative for the last couple of years in South Dakota because of the success it’s had in other states. She said the program stresses the importance of making tennis a team sport as opposed to an individual sport.
“It gets the kids off to a better start,” she said.
“We instill in the kids that it’s a great activity. In the past there have been huge complaints about tennis being a lonely sport, you had to stand alone in a line to hit one ball. But this (program) is totally interactive — it’s not so much a lesson as it is a practice, and the kids get a feel for playing team tennis earlier.”
The adjusted court size is not just meant for kids, either. Dummermuth said the program can be used when teaching adults who have never played before, and she’s already seen a change in South Dakota with the recreation programs and clubs that have embraced the program.
“These lines span far beyond just 10 and Under Tennis,” she said.
“They also work well for people who have lost some mobility. It makes it easier for them because the court is smaller and it works beautifully for beginning adults. They progress through the techniques faster, so it’s much more far-reaching than just the younger age group.”
Although the lines have yet to be installed, Larson and Dummermuth are optimistic they will be beneficial to Mitchell tennis.
“I was very impressed with the Mitchell group,” Dummermuth said. “They were very engaged and very interested in embracing the program. The ultimate goal is to have the kids fall in love with the sport, stay active and stay in shape.”