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2014 Top 10 Moments: Youth tennis produces record numbers

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December 16, 2014 10:20 AM

By McCarton Ackerman, USTA.com

Youth tennis succeeded like never before in 2014, with more year-round programming taking place in more locations throughout the country than ever before.

In all, more than 1,140 events were held in celebration of World Tennis Day in March, more than double the amount in March 2013, providing thousands of families with exposure to tennis in a fun and welcoming environment. There were also 1,950 events held this September, in support of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and in conjunction with Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play, a nearly 40 percent increase from the amount in September 2013.

All the events were free and open to anyone looking to get on the court and in the game.

The USTA also helped kick off the thousands of Play Days throughout March by setting a Guinness World Record for “largest tennis lesson.” The historic moment took place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., with 406 children from local organizations in the New York area coming out for a fun day on the courts.

Leading the way for the USTA’s 2014 youth tennis initiatives were Play Days and team play events. Play Days provided kids with a fun introduction to competitive tennis in a low-pressure setting, resulting in overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. And for those already able to serve, rally and keep score, team play events allowed players to form lasting friendships by competing with each other in a supportive environment.

The combination of the free play events, Play Days and team play created tremendous momentum for the youth tennis movement. Not only have tennis providers across the country made these events a central part of their year-long programming, they’ve crediting it with increasing participation and retention in their other programs.  

“These events help support all of our other youth programming.” said Mike Woody, executive director of the Midland (Mich.) Community Tennis Center. “The reason to offer youth tennis is to get kids playing, and these events encourage them to bring their friends from school, church groups and different youth organizations to just play.”

***

To view all top 10 stories from 2014, visit the Year in Review homepage.

 

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