Popular indoor tennis program Sarnia resuming in January

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After a two-year hiatus, a popular and affordable indoor tennis program for children is accepting applicants for its January start date.

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Tennis 4 Kids, an engaging tennis program that introduces children to the sport and prioritizes sportsmanship, teamwork and skill development, will begin Jan. 14 with its first of three four-week sessions.

Brian Clarke, a certified Tennis Canada instructor as well as Northern Collegiate’s tennis coach, is the founder and director of Tennis 4 Kids. He said he started the program after being involved in a similar program in Victoria, BC

The purpose of the weekly course is to instil a love of tennis in youth ranging from age five to 12, to provide a positive and inexpensive introduction to the sport, gradually developing their skills along the way with features that include different sized courts, different heights of the net, a length of racquet that is proportional to the age of the child and easy-to-follow instruction from some of Sarnia-Lambton’s best high school tennis players.

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Practices are held indoors and kids are matched with their peers in four different age groups (five and six, seven and eight, nine and 10, 11 and 12), Clarke said.

Nets, balls and racquets are proportional to the age of participants. Handout/Sarnia This Week
Nets, balls and racquets are proportional to the age of participants. Handout/Sarnia This Week

All equipment is provided save for running shoes, he added, and students use a special, non-pressurized ball that allows them to experience success early on, rather than frustration on a normal-sized, outdoor tennis court.

“Essentially the program runs from mid-January to mid-April and the idea is for the kids to take 12 weeks of lessons and then hopefully go outside on their own come May,” he said. “With our program the court gets bigger, the racket gets longer and the net gets lower – the beauty of it is that these kids have immediate success.

“Five-year-olds are hitting a big ball over an 18-inch net, that’s the beauty of it,” Clarke added. “No kid should go out on a full-sized tennis court until they’re eleven or twelve years old, it’s ridiculous. The nets there are higher than the kids, so they naturally don’t do as well and get discouraged to the point where they’re not interested in pursuing tennis as a (pastime) anymore.”

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The fundamentals are taught to participants, who need no background in the sport to participate, and ideas such as fair play are also emphasized throughout.

“The instructors are super kids, they’re SWOSSA champions and OFSAA qualifiers,” Clarke said. “And we follow the Ontario Tennis Association guidelines of 6:1 ratio between students and instructors, so each student gets the attention that they need to develop.

Instructors are among the best high school tennis players in Sarnia-Lambton. Handout/Sarnia This Week
Instructors are among the best high school tennis players in Sarnia-Lambton. Handout/Sarnia This Week jpg, SW

“Teenagers and kids spend a lot of time on the phone and their attention span is limited … and I think this went into overdrive during COVID. So there’s uncertainty and anxiety around kids and if nothing else…this program will help them immensely. It’s fun, it’s engaging and it gets them active. Everybody gets a chance to play, and they even have a chance to walk away with a free racket when we have a draw at the end of the session.”

To register or for more information, visit https://t4ksarnia.com. Each four-week session costs $30. Financial assistance is available.

Lessons take place at St. Matthew Catholic School on Saturday mornings.

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