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Tampa Tennis at Hillsborough Debuts New 36-foot 10 and Under Courts, Plans Saturday Festivals

March 22, 2011 10:54 PM
Participants at the Saturday kid's day event
Left to right: Len Simard, David MacBurnie, Ron Hakala and
USTA Florida's Jeff Davis
Children play a volley drill with HCC women's tennis team volunteers
HCC women's team volunteers guide children through a
10 and Under Tennis station
The newly-renovated Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Tennis Center held a grand opening weekend celebration on March 19-20, 2011, unveiling 12 permanent 36-foot QuickStart Tennis courts specifically for teaching the USTA's new 10 and Under Tennis format. Six other courts at the center are lined for 60-foot 10 and Under Tennis play, designed for children age 9-10.

More than 100 children and parents came by to participate in grand opening events over two days. Tampa Tennis at HCC General Manager Ron Hakala is looking to implement the team tennis concept of one of his mentors, legendary World Team Tennis league founder Billie Jean King.

"Our hopes are to create a hub for 10 and Under Tennis, and for kids of all ages, to be involved in tennis as a team sport," Hakala says. "We need to gets kids and parents to look at tennis as a team sport just like they do a soccer team or a baseball team. I've had the fortune of working with Billie Jean King in my career, and I just ran into her in Atlanta, and she said, 'Ron, you promise me that when you get this 10 and Under Tennis thing going, that it will be all team concept.' She is an awesome promoter of team sports, and she is always teaching you something about life."

Hakala says the facility will be holding 10 and Under Tennis festivals each Saturday, and that Tampa-area parents have the opportunity to get on the 36-foot courts with their kids and get them involved early in the "sport of a lifetime."

"It's going to be a grassroots effort by everybody coming together," Hakala says. "We've got the facility now, and we are going to be promoting 10 and Under Tennis every Saturday with our free festivals, and after that we have match play. At age 5, age 10, age 15, tennis is at the bottom of soccer and all these other sports in participation, but at later ages all these other sports fall off the cliff and tennis goes to the top of adult participation. If you were a parent of a young kid, why would you not involve them in tennis at a young age when it is the sport of a lifetime?"

The newly-renovated HCC Tennis Complex includes 18 of the 10 and Under Tennis-lined 36-foot or 60-foot mini-courts, 10 clay courts, and 13 hard courts within a beautiful park setting.
"As you know these courts are going to be popping up all over the place," said David MacBurnie of NETRESULTS All-American Tennis, the new company managing the facility. "This was an excellent opportunity to work collaboratively with our partnerships -- you saw USTA Florida, you saw HCC Tennis, you saw the HCTA [Hillsborough Community Tennis Association], and you saw the HCC women's tennis team and the volunteers in the community who really take a lot of pride in what they are doing. We're making learning tennis easy and fun, and that's our goal here."

Len Simard, a USPTA Master Professional and partner with MacBernie in NETRESULTS, was also on hand to work with children and parents and help with the official kick-off of the facility.

"I thought it went great -- a perfect day, perfect weather, and everyone had fun," Simard said. "I like the whole idea of the team concept, being able to play right away with the QuickStart Tennis play format and play on a team. I think that is really going to be the catalyst to get kids playing more. The lessons will come, but they have to be able to get out and play and have fun."

The USTA Florida Section contributed more than $5,000 of 10 and Under Tennis equipment, and annually directs 90% of member dollars back into the community to support tennis programs and projects throughout Florida. USTA Florida's "Share the Love" grant program helps fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times.

"I was so excited to see the transformation of the HCC tennis complex from what it used to be to Florida's first 10 and Under Tennis complex," said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. "This is part of the first generation of facilities that will impact the lives and tennis paths of tens of thousands of children over time." 

USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and low-compression balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes. To see a video of 10 and Under Tennis in action go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com

For more information go to the Tampa Tennis at HCC website at www.tampatennis.net.






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