10-and-Under Tennis Helps Develop Future Champions

10 and Under Tennis is not just for those looking to get their kids started in the game.

It has been endorsed by USTA Player Development as the best way to develop future American champions, and is used and implemented in Player Development's Certified Regional Training Centers around the country.

The slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls of 10 and Under Tennis allow kids make contact in the optimal hitting zone—between the knees and shoulders—teaching proper swing technique and eliminating the extreme grips that some children develop in an attempt to make contact with balls bouncing over their heads. Moreover, the smaller, lighter racquets enable them to take even swings to ensure proper contact, and the smaller courts are instrumental in teaching the proper footwork and tactical decision-making required at the game's higher levels—all skills reinforced through proper tournament competition.

"One of the greatest misconceptions about 10 and Under Tennis is that it's a great format for beginners only, and that the goal is to transition players to 78-foot courts and yellow balls as soon as possible," says Martin Blackman, Senior Director, Talent Identification and Development, USTA Player Development. "But that's just not the case. We believe that mastery is the goal at every stage, and the QuickStart Tennis play format provides our coaches with the best opportunity to develop players because the environment is appropriate for the size and ability of the player, and the player can master the fundamental skills needed to play the game throughout their career."

The result is a more complete tennis player at a younger age, and a student who will grow into his or her skills at a measured rate—making fair players very good, good players great, and turning great players into champions.

"We're big believers in 10 and Under Tennis as an important component in developing the next generation of American tennis champions," says Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development. "Not only does it reinforce what we in Player Development are trying to teach at an early age, it will increase the number of youngsters playing tennis. We believe that in the long run, the more players you have available, the better chance you're going to find the next Serena Williams or Pete Sampras."

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association agrees, having voted during the 2010 NCAA Tournament to allow NCAA competition on courts that are lined for both 78-foot tennis as well as the 36- and 60-foot courts employed by 10 and Under Tennis. In conjunction with the USTA, the ITA has also started Campus QuickStart, a program created to recognize those college coaches who embrace and utilize the QuickStart Tennis play format in their camps, clinics and other tennis outreach events targeted at the 10-and-under market.

"When you have kids that are struggling to hit the ball, making things slower and smaller is only a benefit," says Peter Smith, coach of the two-time defending NCAA champion USC men's team, who has incorporated the QuickStart Tennis play format in his camps and clinics. "Kids need to have success to want more success. I don't think the general public really realizes how technical and difficult tennis can be, so if we can make it easier, it's only going to help our sport and help everyone who's trying to play."

To get started playing tennis in a location near you visit the USTA's Tennis Welcome Center . Find more tennis technique information at the USTA Player Development Web site .

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