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500 St. Petersburg Children Experience USTA QuickStart Tennis Through YMCA Camp

July 28, 2010 08:28 AM
From left: USTA Florida Assoc. Exec. Dir. Andy McFarland, USTA Florida Schools Coord. Rebecca Halpern, and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg Child Care Exec. Dir. Jason Guerra.
Approximately 500 children age 5-12 at five elementary school sites across St. Petersburg are receiving cutting-edge tennis instruction for their age group this summer via a partnership between USTA Florida and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
The QuickStart Tennis modules, for children 8-and-under and 10-and-under, is part of the YMCA's summer camp program at Jamerson, Maximo, Melrose, Northwest and Woodlawn elementary schools. Sponsors of the QuickStart Tennis also include the Suncoast Tennis Foundation and Wilson Sporting Goods.

USTA Florida Schools Coordinator Rebecca Halpern, USTA Florida organizer Jeff Davis and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg Child Care Executive Director Jason Guerra teamed to develop the curriculum and launch the program.

"Jason Guerra and I worked together during his years with the Hillsborough County School District in building a successful after-school program that exposed thousands of kids to tennis," Davis said. "We're partnering again to mesh the resources of USTA Florida and the 'Y' to bring the sport to more kids through QuickStart Tennis."   

The eight-week pilot program is led by selected YMCA staff serving as QuickStart Tennis trainers, with support provided by USTA Florida. As part of the YMCA's summer program, the constant activity of QuickStart Tennis plays an active role in the effort to combat rising obesity rates in children.

"As childhood obesity continues to rise in our country, it is important to keep kids active in activities that keep them moving and gets their hearts pumping," Guerra said. "The YMCA of Greater Saint Petersburg is committed to providing safe, fun, and educational summer programs to the youths in our community, and QuickStart Tennis allows us to introduce tennis to our summer campers in a fun and educational way."

QuickStart Tennis is the new USTA-approved format for teaching children age 10-and-under, featuring smaller court sizes, smaller racquets, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. The Suncoast Tennis Foundation donated funding in addition to Wilson kid-sized racquets and balls.

"QuickStart Tennis lets kids feel they are truly playing the game in a short period of time," said Judy Foster, executive director of the Suncoast Tennis Foundation, which serves Pinellas County. "We know the growth of tennis depends on our youth getting into the game and QuickStart Tennis is the proven way to go. Our foundation's mission is to develop and expand amateur community tennis through educational and charitable programs. Through our contribution to the 'Y' program, we are helping to develop character, self-esteem and discipline in our youth."  Bob Pfaender, the Wilson Sporting Goods representative in South Florida, added, “Wilson is proud to support USTA Florida's initiatives in the schools program both in- and after-school activities exposing children to tennis, the sport of a lifetime.”

Halpern says the program will continue in future years.

"USTA Florida is proud to partner with the YMCA of St. Petersburg," Halpern said. "We look forward to continued success with more children being introduced to QuickStart Tennis through the YMCA's after-school child care program and in future summer camp sessions."

For more information on the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg and its summer programs and QuickStart Tennis, go to www.stpeteymca.org.

For more information on USTA Florida QuickStart Tennis, go to www.ustaflorida.com and click on the QuickStart link on the left. For more information on USTA Florida programs with associations and schools, contact Rebecca Halpern at halpern@florida.usta.com.





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