Feb 26, 2013, 11:05:37 PM

Over the years various ways and programs have been put into place in an effort to try and introduce kids into playing tennis. Some have sort of worked, others have not been so successful but it seems now the sport...
Over the years various ways and programs have been put into place in an effort to try and introduce kids into playing tennis. Some have sort of worked, others have not been so successful but it seems now the sport might just have hit the nail on the head. And it is not just one aspect; there are a couple of prongs in the attack to keep kids in tennis after the initial introduction. For all of us already in the sport, apart from some of the ridiculous political aspects that at time detract from tennis, it is a brilliant sport. However, what was often happening when youngsters were introduced to tennis they’d get fed-up soon because they would be discouraged with not seeing success, like keeping the ball in play, being able to lift heavier racquets, etc. So enter Tennis 10s, a whole new approach. Courts have been made smaller, racquets are lighter and smaller, the balls have been made softer so that they are easier to hit and then there are the colours around the court which grabs attention. Introduced by the International Tennis Federation, Tennis 10s has been the most successful introductory level program for youngsters. The under 10s are loving it and the whole idea of working to keep kids in the sport and not get discouraged as was the case, has been working a charm. The kids are staying because they can control hitting the ball. The catch cry of “Tennis Play and Stay” is working. Now, the next part of the whole project was to have some sort of a link between tennis federations and that is where World Tennis Day comes into the picture and 4th March is that day. This year is the very first World Tennis Day but it is going to be an annual event. National federations around the world are using that day to really add to the promotion of Tennis 10s with individual projects. As an example, in Argentina the federation is taking over what is said to be the biggest roadway/highway in the world and laying down dozens of mini tennis courts. In New York the USTA has used “Tennis Night in America” to really promote the concept and in Hong Kong a huge playing field in Stanley Park will have mini courts created as kids try tennis. So many nations have signed up to be part of the whole project – Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Brazil, Portugal and the list goes on. The final part, and by no means the last link in the chain is getting the fans to be up close and personal with some of the biggest names in the sport and at the same time have a connection to the little ones. Enter StarGames Inc and its President and CEO Jerry Solomon. Solomon created the Showdown in New York City and BNP Paribas teamed up to add its name to the event. The biggest names have played and the attention it brought has been sensational. Federer, Lendl, McEnroe, Serena, Venus, Sharapova, Wozniacki, Roddick, have all been part of the BNP Paribas Showdown. As part of World Tennis Day, Hong Kong has been added with the first ever BNP Paribas Showdown outside New York. Caroline Wozniacki, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl are among those who will rock the Asia World Arena on 4th March. Meanwhile at the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York Serena will play Vika Azarenka and Rafa Nadal takes on Juan Martin Del Potro. What will also be noticed is that the full size court will have additional lines on it and those are the lines for the mini courts used in Tennis 10s. “World Tennis Day will put a spotlight on tennis participation in our Centenary year,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The very successful Tennis Night in America, staged by the USTA in association with StarGames, is an example of how special events and participation activities can be combined successfully. We are pleased with the initial response from many of our member National Associations, and look forward to additional events and activities around the world over the next few years.” Solomon added: “Our partnerships with the USTA on Tennis Night in America and BNP Paribas on the Showdown have proven successful so to be able to expand this to World Tennis Day in partnership with the ITF and its 210 member nations is a unique opportunity. “I want to thank the ITF leadership for sharing our vision and look forward to the day when World Tennis Day brings focus to the sport through multiple special events combined with the Tennis10s programme across the globe.”