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Young and Old Alike Enjoy 10-under USTA Tennis Carnival in Port Orange Celebrating 36-foot Courts

December 12, 2011 01:10 PM
Port Orange Mayor Allen Green (right) and USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth (left) guide children in the ribbon cutting
81-year-old Maureen Elko joins the children in hitting
with low-compression balls
The Port Orange, Fla., community just south of Daytona Beach came out to embrace 10 and Under Tennis on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Airport Road Park when USTA Florida in partnership with the City of Port Orange debuted eight permanent 36-foot 10 and Under Tennis courts, and an additional four regular-sized courts lined for 60-foot play for children.

Port Orange Mayor Allen Green, Port Orange City Council members, and USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth made opening remarks before an official ribbon cutting opened the new courts for play. Margaret Lee was one parent watching over the low side fence as her 7-year-old son rallied on the 36-foot court with a smaller age-appropriate racquet and low-compression, larger balls.

"This is his first time playing like this -- he did a session in the summer with the regular adult courts," Lee said. "The courts are smaller and shorter which is good, it gives him more confidence to hit the ball. They make it more available for the kids and they can play longer. We play on the regular courts but they always go running for the balls, there is not as much hitting as chasing balls and they get bored and tired. So this is so much better and he likes it."

Young and old alike enjoyed the kid-sized equipment as parents and grandparents took to the court to rally with kids and join in drills and games.

"I started playing tennis when I was about 65, and then I got hurt and stopped, and I hadn't picked up a tennis racquet until now, for 15 years," said 81-year-old Maureen Elko after playing with the smaller racquets and foam balls. "Abigail, my granddaughter, I can go out and hit a few balls with her now, I was never able to do that on a big court. It's fun with the foam balls because you don't feel all that contact-stress on your arm when you hit the ball. I used to have all that with my arthritis when I played. But this is great, I'm watching these kids out here and they're having fun, they're getting exercise, they're doing everything right with this."

Children also enjoyed D.J. Ken playing music and leading the dance contest, with cookie decorating, face painting, a "bounce house" and different court stations including a fitness challenge and obstacle course, and King of the Court.

Parents Susan and David Kelso were among the onlookers seeing the 10 and Under Tennis format for the first time with their son Adrian participating.

"He has just taken a few lessons, but we like this, I like the kids revolving as they do and everyone getting a chance to play and it's fast paced, it keeps their attention and they don't get bored," David said.

Susan added, "The smaller courts are better for the kids to get good technique, until they get to an older age. We're going to get him into this."

Children left the event with various goodies, including a new low-compression ball.

"The vision of a 10 and Under Tennis facility where not only children, but entire families can play tennis together has been over a year in the making for the Port Orange community," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Volusia/Flagler counties area Molly Zimmer. "On Saturday, we saw our vision become reality, watching children of all ages having fun and playing tennis with their friends and family. The community came out to support the opening with the volunteers from the Port Orange Family YMCA, tennis players and tennis professionals and the Spruce Creek High School girls tennis team coach and members from the high school tennis team."

The Airport Road courts are the result of grants from USTA national, USTA Florida, and the USTA Florida Section Foundation, the official charitable arm of USTA Florida, assisting non-profit community organizations to offer programming in youth tennis and adaptive tennis, among other programs.

"This facility is unique in that it now has tennis courts for all age groups, from kids under 10 years of age to adults of any age," said USTA Florida Section Foundation President Donn Davis. "With the use of age- and talent-appropriate racquets and balls, anyone can now enjoy a great tennis workout. And the short courts are not just for kids, they are also great for older adults who no longer desire to chase a ball around the standard 78-foot court."

For more information on 10 and Under Tennis in the Volusia County area, contact Molly Zimmer at zimmer@florida.usta.com.






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