After School Program Sparks Love for Tennis

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section partnered  with Belvedere Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va., to introduce tennis as a brand new after school program during the 2018-2019 school year. The program was met with incredible enthusiasm and both the fall and spring sessions were completely full. Many children picked up a tennis racquet and began learning the sport for the first time. 

While tennis brought the student population together and helped create camaraderie through learning a new sport together, one student in particular had an experience that’s proving to be even more meaningful than expected.Maryn-belvedere-3

Maryn P., joined the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section’s after school tennis program at Belvedere Elementary last school year and according to her mom Jaana, it has opened up a whole new love of sport – especially tennis – for the young girl. 

“I am so glad that tennis is offered as an after school activity at Belvedere Elementary here in Fairfax, Va! My husband and I very much enjoy playing tennis and really wanted our daughter Maryn to learn the sport too but didn’t know how to get her started,” explained Jaana. 

“We were very thankful for tennis to be offered after school so she can learn the basics and that she could do it with other kids from school.  We thought it would be a great start, and more fun than just us [teaching her],” she added. 

As a non-profit organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic aims to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region and one way we do that is by providing high-quality after school tennis programs with the support of donations. We want all people, especially children to experience the benefits of tennis, a lifelong sport, so they can develop skills and healthy habits that will pay dividends for years to come.  

For Jaana, the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program has sparked an excitement in Maryn for the sport that has been enjoyable to see blossom, and doors to new opportunities are opening.  

“I think the after school tennis program has really sparked an interest with Maryn.  She was interested in watching Wimbledon this year, and we even went to the kids day at the Citi Open tournament, which we wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program. Maryn really enjoyed participating in a tennis summer camp program as well. She is looking forward to playing tennis again as school starts. I’m so glad to have had the program offered so she can at least start learning the basics, and who knows where it will go from there,” Jaana said.

As for Maryn, learning a new sport has been pure fun.Maryn-belvedere-1

“I love learning and getting to the next level.  I was very excited to get to the red level to get a new racquet! I told my friend on the bus and now she is going to play this fall too because she also wants a racquet. I really enjoy hitting the ball back and forth- it’s fun,” she says.

USTA Mid-Atlantic is looking forward to kicking off the 2019-2020 school year of after school tennis at Belvedere Elementary and many other schools across the Mid-Atlantic region. We aim to introduce more children to tennis and spark their love of a new sport they may not have ever known. But we need to help to ensure we can succeed.

Your tax-deductible gift of $100.74 covers the cost to provide equipment, a high-quality curriculum, and instruction for one child in the program. USTA Mid-Atlantic provides all of this so participants just need to come ready to play and have fun.

As the school year is just getting underway, your gift can make an immediate difference. Importantly, you can double your gift when you give thanks to an anonymous donor matching all donations up to $10,000 in 2019.

You can help change lives through the power of the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program. Give today


USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. 

DIY Holiday Decor Sports Theme: Tennis Ball Wreath

The holiday season is here and for so many of us in the Mid-Atlantic that means a time to take a break, relax and enjoy some down time with friends, family and loved ones. We love the holidays for so many reasons, but a big part of what makes it special is the chance to do certain activities that maybe we don’t often get to do other times of year, such as baking, binge watching Hallmark Channel, hanging out in PJs all day and maybe doing crafts and other hands-on activities or special outings.  For all of our tennis friends out there, we know (hope) this time of year means extra time to get in lots of tennis too!

But if you’re looking for fun DIY activities during the holiday break, either for yourself to try or to do with your kiddos or grandkiddos, look no further. Tennis fans will be sure to love this DIY Tennis Ball Wreath activity! This wreath is great for the holidays and really, can be transitioned to use any time of year, especially during your tennis season and hung during the US Open too! Just leave off the holiday embellishments or make a version with out those holiday touches for more versatile use throughout the year.

Alright, let’s get making! Grab those used tennis balls and fire up the glue gun, and get ready to have some fun!

Tennis Ball Wreath

What You Need

Gather your supplies 

What you need: 

16-17 used tennis balls

1-2 sleeves of ornaments

1 wire clothes hanger

Ribbon or Bow

Glue Gun

Scissors

Box cutter or X-Acto knife

Instructions 

Step 1: Unravel your wire clothes hanger and shape into a circle.Step 1

Step 2: Cut two 1” slits on each tennis ball. If doing this project with kids, make sure an adult is there to supervise or this is a step that only an adult does. 

Step 3: Feed tennis balls one by one onto the wire hanger, filling the wire hanger.Step 2 and 3

Step 4: Re-twist the wire hanger at the top to leave a hook for hanging. Note: at this point you can decide if you want your tennis balls in line with each other, or want to rotate them up or down to add dimension (see two final wreaths below for layout).

Step 5: Pull out those ornaments and glue gun. Place ornaments throughout the wreath using hot glue to secure them.Step 5

Step 6: Add your ribbon or bow to the top, below your hook.

Step 7: Hang on your door for a festive tennis feel or gift these out to all the tennis fans and players in your life!

 

We’d love to see your finished products! Make some tennis ball wreaths and send us a picture or post it to social media tagging us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!  And keep on playing and using those tennis balls up so you can make more crafts! Learn more about playing tennis with USTA Mid-Atlantic. 


Shell Wood is the Events Manager for USTA Mid-Atlantic. She enjoys crafting and repurposing items, especially tennis equipment, to bring a little pizzazz to our events. 

Fun DIY Halloween Decorations – Tennis Themed

One thing tennis lovers know is that there is always a creative way to reuse dead tennis balls.  With Halloween season upon us, we’ve put together three spooktacular DIY Halloween decorations you can do with those scary dead tennis balls lurking in your basement, garage, trunk or bag.

We found these DIY craft projects are great activities to do with kids or grand kids or even during a Halloween party as an activity station.

Tennis coaches and tennis clubs, you can incorporate these craft projects into a Halloween-themed tennis lesson or tennis tournament for kids too.

So let’s raise the dead (ahem tennis balls that is) and have some Halloween fun making these awesome tennis inspired DIY Halloween tennis ball decorations.

DIY Halloween Tennis Ball Craft 

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What you need: 1

1 can of tennis balls
Glue
Scissors
4 googly eyes
Orange, green and black markers
3-4 pipe cleaners
1 piece of colored paper
Bottle tops (Gatorade or milk container tops recommended)

 

Start by making the base for the three Tennis Ball Halloween figures by gluing a bottle top to the bottom of each tennis ball.

Grab your markers and color 1 ball green, 1 ball orange and 1 ball black.

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Witch!

Step 1: Grab the green tennis ball on base; the top to the tennis ball can, glue, paper, scissors, 2 eyes, green marker and a pipe cleaner.

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Step 2: Take your paper and cut out a half moon shape. 6

Step 3: Roll the half-moon shape to form a cone.

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Tip – Stapling the corners together will secure it quickly

Step 4: Glue the cone to the top of the tennis ball can – you made a witch’s hat!

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Step 5: Glue the witch’s hat to the tennis ball.

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Tip – Tilt the hat a little off to the side so that your eyes fit later

Step 6: Take a pipe cleaner and cut it in half. Take half of the pipe cleaner and fold it over two times, twist together to keep secure – you made a witch’s nose! Glue the nose to the tennis ball.


Step 7: Glue 2 googly eyes to the tennis ball – good job! You’re tennis ball witch is complete!

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Pumpkin!

Step 1: Grab the orange tennis ball on base; the other half of the pipe cleaner you just cut for the witch’s nose, glue, and the black marker.

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Step 2: Take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half two times, twist together to keep secure and glue onto the top of your tennis ball.

Step 3: Take the black marker and draw on your pumpkin face. Whew! That was a quick one – you made a tennis ball pumpkin!

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Bat!

Step 1: Grab the black tennis ball, 2 pipe cleaners, glue, and 2 googly eyes.

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Step 2: Glue on your two googly eyes to the front of the tennis ball.

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Step 3: Take a pipe cleaner and twist it closed at the end to make a loop. Do this to both pipe cleaners.

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Step 4: Create indentations in the bottom of the pipe cleaner to form the bat wings. Do this to both pipe cleaners. You made bat wings!

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Step 5: Glue the bat wings to the left and right side of your tennis ball. YAY! A tennis ball bat!

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Step 6: Bonus step if you have any extra pieces of pipe cleaners. Cut two 1” pieces of pip cleaner and bend to form a triangle. Add these two “bat ears” to the top of your tennis ball.

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Enjoy your tennis ball witch, pumpkin and bat to decorate your house for this haunting holiday – Happy Halloween!


Shell Wood is the Events Manager for USTA Mid-Atlantic. She enjoys crafting and repurposing items to bring a little pizzazz to our events.

Six At-Home Tennis Activities to Bust Boredom

As a mom of two active little boys, I am a firm believer in getting outside each day to burn off extra energy. We run around the yard, play games, take walks – whatever we can do to get out of the house, move our bodies and have some fun.

I don’t know about you, but we just cannot stay cooped up in the house all day long. On those days when we do, the tranquility of our family room quickly turns into a disaster area with couch cushions strewn about, toys everywhere (and I mean everywhere), boys running room to room racing to see who’s the fastest, and sporting equipment flying. Did I mention that my boys are active?

During the colder months when the temperatures dip too low to go outside for long periods of time, I desperately search for activities we can do inside that are engaging and get my kids moving with as little destruction as possible.

My older son has recently found an affinity for tennis (hooray!) thanks to his recent participation in the TGA afterschool tennis enrichment program. He wants to play all the time. And I couldn’t be happier about it! With equipment sized right, tennis is fun for kids of all ages and skill level and it boasts numerous benefits such as learning lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship as well as building physical strength and endurance.

Considering he is just a very early beginner, I definitely want to keep his interest and give him the chance to have fun with tennis when he wants. That got me thinking: what tennis activities could we do inside at home while we wait for sunnier days and warmer temps more accommodating for time out on our local tennis courts.

So I went right to USTA Mid-Atlantic’s own resident expert on playing tennis in non-traditional spaces (aka our manager of school programs) Alicia von Lossberg. She assured me that, very easily, everyday spaces can turn into the perfect places for tennis fun for you and your children.

She explained that all of the activities are suitable for a basement, playroom or even the garage and that activities range from racquet and ball handling to fitness fun. You don’t even need to have a net! You can get creative with items you likely have on hand at home. Masking tape or painters tape is perfect for marking the perimeter of the “court” on the floor or simply mark a line for where a net would be. You can also use two chairs with tape stretched between them as the net.

This is just the solution I want to have at the ready should we find ourselves indoors but chomping for an activity.

So, the next time you are stuck inside more than you like and you hear “I’m bored,” for the umpteenth time, grab your racquets and foam balls and try these six fun tennis activities at home to break up the monotony and calm the crazy.

Ball balance, tap downs and bump ups are all great activities to practice racquet and ball handling. For ball balance, have your little tennis star try to balance the foam ball on the strings of the racquet while touching the floor with their opposite hand. Tap downs are when you bounce the ball down at waist level and bump ups are when you bounce the ball (carefully) up at eye level without letting the ball hit the ground. Have your child do as many of those as they can. You can even do these activities with your child and see who can do the most in a row or go the longest balancing the ball.

Helpful hint: if this is too hard for them, try a beach ball or balloon for quick success before moving on to the foam ball.

Partner up and practice hand-eye skills. Put some tunes on and partner up with your child or partner your kids up to work on hand-eye coordination. A fan favorite is ball pass where you work together to pass a ball back and forth “catching” it with the racquet. For each catch, keep stepping back a step and see how far apart you can get. Set a record and see who can break it.

Helpful hint: for younger kids, use a bean bag to pass instead.  

Get in a rhythm with “drop, hit, catch” and “toss, hit, catch.” These games are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face and even work their rhythmic pattern skills! Partner up with them and have them gently drop the ball and hit it toward you so that you can catch it – drop, hit, catch, and repeat. Every catch is a point! After six hits, change roles and see who can get the most points. Try toss, hit, catch to work on forehand and backhand skills. Begin about three steps apart from your child and toss the tennis ball to the forehand or backhand side and have them rally the ball back to you to catch it. Toss it six times and switch!

Helpful hint: Give your child a target (like your knees or hat on your head) to keep balls from being hit like home runs.

drop-hit-catch2

Rally over the net. Remember those chairs with the tape (or rope, ribbon, or streamers) stretched between them? Set them up as the net and work with your child to rally the ball over to each other. You can make this activity easier by rolling the ball on the ground or make it harder by switching between forehand and backhand off the bounce. See how long you can rally with each other.

Agility, footwork and speed are all valuable skills for tennis that can be worked on at home. If you are playing in a more open space of the house, a few minutes of jump rope is a great way your child can work on footwork moves. See how long each of you can jump without stopping. Hop scotch is also a great game to work on balance and agility by hopping on one foot and then two. But the best game of all IMO is the “Ball Kid Burst.” Put imagination to action and pretend to be a ball kid dashing to grab the tennis balls for superstars like Rafa and Serena during an intense match. Place a racquet on the floor and then place a pile of tennis balls directly across from the racquet, about 10 to 15 feet away. Get your stopwatch ready and race to grab one ball at a time and place them on racquet. Record the time and see how fast you can get all the tennis balls picked up. Take turns to see who is the fastest. Try this one at the end of play time, when all the foam balls are scattered about. This is a GREAT way to make clean up fun.

ball-kid-burst

Strategize a new game. Tennis is all about game strategy so work those intellectual skills and have your child invent their own tennis game that can be played indoors. Kids love to make up their own games, and you never know what kind of creative ideas they will come up with that can work a new tennis skill. Just make sure you remember it for next time to add it in the rotation.

Hopefully you found this list to be a handy reference so that on the days when you just can’t get enough outdoor time or make it to the courts, you can still work with your child on their budding tennis skills and love of the game! And speaking of love of tennis, don’t forget, kids 10 and under new to the USTA are eligible for a free junior membership. Find out more and sign up!

What fun tennis activities have you tried with kids? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Lauren Hoffmann is the director of marketing, communication and membership at USTA Mid-Atlantic. She would write a really clever little line here but she’s a mom and she’s exhausted.

Illustration images are from the USTA Kid’s Tennis Clubs Organizers Playbook. Illustrations are thanks to Skillastics, Inc.