SPORTIME Randall’s Island and the John McEnroe Tennis Academy played host to the SPORTIME World Tour on Saturday, as kids from all the different SPORTIME facilities came out for a day of tennis fun.
Each child gets a mini-passport that holds stamps from each event they attend to showcase their dedication to tennis.
After checking in, it was time to play some tennis.
The children were broken into groups led by different coaches. Whether it was hand-eye coordination drills, rallying, or fun games, the kids loved each moment of the afternoon.
“It was really fun” said player Andreas Mickish, who has been playing the sport for four years, and says he loves to watch tennis and is eager to keep playing in the future.
But tennis is more than just a game, and its lessons include more than just proper technique.
“It helps you become a better person,” said Ofir Solomon, the academy’s Assistant Director of U10 tennis. “It teaches time management, how to be patient, how to listen to coaches. And at this age, it teaches you how to make friends on the court, which is the biggest reason why I have the kids play in our program. It’s fun for them.”
Even with parents watching in the stands, these kids were not distracted. They listened to their coaches and worked hard to better their skills. But that is not the only goal of this event.
“It gives players, especially players that don't have the opportunity to compete a lot or haven't had the opportunity to compete, an opportunity to come to an event where it's competition but it's sort of a light version”, said SPORTIME World Tour Director Jason Wass. “It's truly an event: we have music, food and games. You know, they’re kind of learning about competing, but they're not getting the ‘it's all on you’ pressure. There's not a lot of emphasis on winning and losing. It's more about having a good time, putting in a good effort, and making it a fun day for everybody.”
The event has grown a lot over the past five years, and Wass said it is especially special to see the growth of the kids who have been coming out since its inception.
“I’m seeing players that came as a five-year-old five years ago when we started this event. They come to every, or almost every, event,” Wass added. “Their passports are full of stamps and they're coming here and now they're in our higher level, green ball, and they're playing tournaments. They’re comfortable in this environment. So I think they just see kids go through this whole process and its entire pathway. It has been really rewarding for me and a lot of the other coaches who have been involved since day one”.
This event really shows that playing tennis is rewarding in many different ways, and getting your child started at a young age equips them with skills that last a lifetime.
You can learn more about the SPORTIME World Tour event series by visiting SportimeNY.com/WorldTour.
Stefen Rosner is a contributing writer to New York Tennis Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.