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Pensacola Play Days Bringing New Faces to Tennis Courts

October 16, 2014 08:33 AM
Multiple USTA Free Tennis Play Days throughout the month of September brought kids and families out to facilities throughout Pensacola -- with a full calendar of events ahead throughout the end of 2014.

"Nickelodeon Worldwide Day of Play events benefited from lots of attendance and smiling faces that didn't want to leave the courts," said USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Coordinator for the Greater Pensacola area Tara Dominguez. "The events resulted in many new young tennis enthusiasts registering for programming."

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Roger Scott Tennis Center, Pensacola Athletic Club, Pensacola Country Club, and The Montessori School of Pensacola were only some of the area facilities offering play opportunities.

The City of Pensacola sponsored the Worldwide Day of Play at Maritime Park, where more than 30 vendors represented local programming opportunities for area youth. Two 36-foot courts with Youth Tennis equipment were set up by Dominguez, Roger Scott Tennis Center Junior Director Rita Dotson, University of West Florida Director of Sports and Leisure Rob Isosaari, volunteers Shawn Dominguez, Harrison Perkins, Tanner Dominguez, Peyton Dominguez, and a handful of UWF students assisting.

"The smaller courts and equipment allowed kids of all ages to learn and attempt strokes like the forehand, backhand and volley, and of course enjoy some good ol' free play by rallying back and forth," Dominguez said. "Repeat customers were plentiful, and often we had to persuade participants to take a break so others may take part in the activities."

Play DaysThe Roger Scott Tennis Center was another Worldwide Day of Play site, with an event that brought participants age 10 and under out in full force.

"Kids age 4-8 used the 'red ball' which let them rally, even the beginners, and take part in fun on-court games," Dominguez said. "The 'orange ball' and 'green dot' ball players engaged in a free clinic warm-up and then enjoyed some fun recreational match play. The celebration had music, prizes and pizza, but the real fun and energy remained on the courts. Not only were the kids reluctant to leave the courts to eat, but Josh Koivu and Rita Dotson of Roger Scott extended the event to well beyond noon because the kids wanted more tennis fun."

A number of participants ended the day by registering on site for upcoming clinics, play opportunities and Junior Team Tennis play.

The month also marked the registration period for Junior Team Tennis, which this season in Pensacola will encompass four facilities -- Roger Scott Tennis Center, Pensacola Country Club, The Club, and Gulf Breeze Shoreline Tennis Center. 

Numerous schools have players represented in the league, and three private schools have school-sponsored teams as an extension of the schools' USTA Kids Tennis Clubs. Currently the league has more than 100 participants, with red, orange, green dot and yellow ball leagues. Depending on the number of teams participating, the league generally runs for 5-8 weeks.

Another initiative boosting play in the Pensacola area is the new Fall Play Day Series calendar. The Roger Scott Tennis Center has already hosted a Play Day, with upcoming events through the end of the year including the Pensacola Country Club on Oct. 24, Roger Scott again on Nov. 14, and Portofino Resort on Dec. 5.

"Play opportunities for youth in Pensacola have been exploding, and will continue through to the new year," Dominguez says. "These events have all levels of play for ages 5-10, with food, music and lots of recreational tennis. For the Fall Play Day Series events, the cost is only $10 for USTA members and $12 for non-members."

While the youth tennis participation numbers in Pensacola speak for themselves, Dominguez says the success of Play Days is measured on the children's faces.

"The true success of an event is in the faces of the players, the spoken words of the child, and in the echoes of laughter from the courts," she says. "When I hear kids say 'Today was the best day ever!' or 'Can we go back out on the courts?' or 'It's not over yet, is it?' I'm reminded why it is important to provide play opportunities and why I love what I do. Here in Pensacola, our youth tennis is on the ball!"

For more information on Youth Tennis play opportunities in the Pensacola area e-mail dominguez@florida.usta.com.

 
 

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