Alameda, California (EastBayDaily) — A new beginner team tennis program for kids 10 and under from the Northern California section of the United States Tennis Association has gained the support of world-ranked tennis player Sloane Stephens and sports equipment titan Wilson Sporting Goods.
The new program, H.I.T.S.-Red Ball Junior Team Tennis (H.I.T.S.-Red Ball JTT), was created by USTA NorCal staff as a next step for participants who completed the initial H.I.T.S. program which teaches not only the fundamentals of tennis but life-skills lessons, including honesty, integrity, teamwork and sportsmanship, which make up the H.I.T.S. acronym.
Nearly 4,000 kids participated in the initial H.I.T.S. program, which kicked off in March 2014.
H.I.T.S.-Red Ball JTT provides a great transition for kids to move from the introductory, individual aspect of H.I.T.S. into the team concept without a heavy emphasis on competitive play which appears later on in orange, green and yellow ball tennis. The core lessons remain a part of this program to continue to help develop the child as well at the athlete.
Both programs use modified equipment and courts tailored to a child’s size. By featuring shorter and lighter racquets, slower-bouncing balls, smaller courts and simplified scoring, children learn to play more quickly and easily while having more fun in the process.
Both H.I.T.S. programs were a perfect fit for Wilson Sporting Goods, who generously stepped in as the program’s equipment sponsor.
“The H.I.T.S. programs are ideal for Wilson’s vision for tennis,” said Steve Dunn with Wilson. “I can think of no better way to impact young players than to sponsor the events that get them started in tennis. We are in the business of making lifelong tennis players, and that’s good for everyone.”
Sloane Stephens — the 32nd ranked player in the world — has also lent her support and her name as the face of the program and appears throughout its materials and messaging. Sloane also started out in tennis at a young age and spent time as a youth training in the Fresno area where she still has family.
“We are committed to not only helping keep kids healthy and active, but to provide them with the life skills tools to make them a better person, not just a better player. That is why this program is so important,” said Steve Leube, executive director of USTA Northern California. “It is exciting to see that both Sloane Stephens and Wilson also see this as a priority and have made the commitment to improving the lives of kids in communities around Northern California.”
H.I.T.S.-Red Ball JTT can be run anywhere kids can play tennis, including through programs at clubs, Parks and Recreation facilities, community centers, after-school programs, etc. Kids will be put on teams within the program so they can experience the team tennis experience at a level they are comfortable playing as they continue to grow their skills.
USTA Northern California, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the 4th largest section of the USTA. With 51,000 individual members, hundreds of organizational members, volunteers, and a professional staff, USTA NorCal is devoted to promoting and developing the growth of tennis as an inclusive and inviting lifetime activity in Northern California and Northwest Nevada.
For more information on USTA Northern California, log on to norcal.usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/ustanorcal, or follow @ustanorcal on Twitter.