Wishing You all the Joy the Holidays Bring (VIDEO)

We hope that this year has brought joyous memories of fun tennis played and friendships made.  Of laughter, and aces and serves for the ages! Of taking your game to the next level, and matches and points with which you can revel. Through tennis we hope that you’ve fueled a passion, and taken your tennis goals and proceeded to smash ’em. We hope you’ve enjoyed staying active and fit, and building new skills that work great on the court and even off of it.

It’s our pleasure serving up the game of tennis for all of you in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a joyful New Year –  from your friends at USTA Mid-Atlantic!

Top Things we are Thankful For About Tennis

At  USTA Mid-Atlantic we often say tennis is so much more than a game played with a racquet and ball. We believe tennis is a culture, a community and a passion that builds character, enhances your life and makes you who you are.

With the Thanksgiving season here, we started thinking and talking about the sport we love and why we are so thankful to not only be working to grow the game and get more we-love-mid-atlantic-tennispeople playing but also simply why we. LOVE. Tennis. So. Much!

So we started a list of things about tennis we are so thankful for and appreciate. By reflecting on this appreciation we hope more people can understand why tennis is special and feel motivated to show their support during the charitable giving season to ensure all people in the Mid-Atlantic region, especially children, get to experience the benefits of a game that gives back in so many ways. Our list is by no means complete so we definitely want to hear from you on what you would add too. Here goes:

Tennis makes us thankful for…. 

What would you add to the list that we have not included? Leave a comment or tweet us (@USTAMidAtlantic) with your comment using #ThankfulforTennis.

 

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.

League Captain of the Year

Meet Amy O’Brien from Leesburg, Virginia. She captained 13 teams in 2016 and has already signed on for more this year, in addition to her commitment to growing tennis throughout her community.  She has won 2 tickets to the 217 US. Open along with $500 for travel spending for this honor! This is what others had to say about Amy:

“She is tireless and a great captain helping both rookies and advanced players.  She sacrifices so much of herself to the sport of tennis…it is the fabric of her soul and she truly is deserving.”

“She manages so many teams from doubles, mixed, singles to juniors. She is on the tennis board for our neighborhood, coordinates classes and schedules for contract time–the list just goes on and on!”

Here’s a deeper look at our Captain of the Year!

When did you first pick up a racquet? I decided to take lessons five years ago when our new pro arrived at River Creek Tennis Club. I thought it would be a good way to get some exercise but not realizing that I would really enjoy the game.

How long have you been captaining USTA League teams? I’ve captained teams for about 4 years.

What do you enjoy about captaining a USTA League team? Meeting players and making new friends not only from our club but other clubs as well.

What’s been your favorite or most unique “captain” moment so far? I have several favorite moments. One of favorite moment ( or a sense of accomplishment) of being a captain is seeing the growth in our membership and teams. In the past everyone in our community played for other clubs. We didn’t have a men’s, junior or mixed doubles team. But now we have over 16 teams for all  ages and level of players. It is nice to see our tennis community and membership grow at River Creek Club.

What do you think your players or other players should know about what it’s like to captain? I welcome feedback and being a captain is easy when you have a great network of support system from not only your teammates but parents as well.

What is your strategy on recruiting new players? How do you find and fill your team with new players each year? We recruit by a lot of networking. Sometimes, I see people playing that I don’t know at our club, I will ask them for their names and phone numbers and invite them to play in our round robin or  at our social events. We try to be very inclusive. Other times we discovered that new players are nervous to play with others and we tell them all levels are welcomed as we all started from somewhere. We want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Why do you like to give back to the sport of tennis so much? Because  I made some true and long lasting friendship due to tennis.  Also,regardless of your age tennis is a sport that everyone can enjoy . It is a sport that my kids really enjoy and I want to support them as much as possible.

If you could have any professional player (current or retired) on your league team, who would it be? Why? Federer because of his mental toughness and how he always stay calm.

Congratulations, Amy! USTA Mid-Atlantic would like to thank all of our outstanding USTA League captains for their service to the program.  From scheduling lineups to making calls to players at the eleventh hour, we know and definitely appreciate all they do to keep the USTA League program fun for everyone!

To learn more and get involved in USTA League tennis, click here.

 

2016 Mid-Atlantic Award Winners

Gain Inspiration from These Six Award Winners

USTA Mid-Atlantic (USTA MAS) was pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Impact, Inclusion and Innovation awards for the Section at this year’s Conference and Awards ceremony on November 12, 2016. This is the second year USTA MAS has awarded trophies to deserving individuals and organizations who are working hard to promote and develop the growth of tennis in the community.

This year’s award winners are a diverse group that has a commonality – a passion for getting more people of all ages playing tennis. From an organization that has gone above and beyond to encourage diverse populations to play tennis to an individual using the latest social media technology to get more people out on the courts, these six winners are ones to watch in the Section. They are also great role models for others who also want to make a difference in the tennis community.

 Instead of just telling you about them, take a look at the following videos to learn about each award winner and what makes their work so special.

2016 Inclusion Award (individual), Ann Tierney of Chesterfield, VA.

2016 Inclusion Award (organization), The Multicultural Children’s Tennis Association of Columbia, MD.

 2016 Innovation Award (individual), Pedro Graber of Arlington, VA.

 2016 Innovation Award (organization), the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association of Washington, DC.

 2016 Impact Award (individual), Jennifer Toomy of Norfolk, VA.

2016 Impact Award (organization), Montgomery TennisPlex, Boyds, MD.

Please join us in congratulating these award winners on their tremendous accomplishments in 2016.

We hope these stories are an inspiration to do more in your community to grow tennis, embrace inclusion and try new things to spark interest in the sport. You can also get involved by supporting USTA Mid-Atlantic in our efforts to reach underserved populations and enable more people – especially children – to play tennis and learn the sport of lifetime. You can simply text ACE to 80077 to make a $10 donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic to help our tennis enrichment scholarship fund.*

What do you find inspirational about the 2016 USTA MAS award winners? In what ways can you do more to promote and develop the growth of tennis in your community? Share your thoughts with us on social media and join the conversation.

Editor’s note: All award winner videos were produced in partnership with G-Fitz Productions.

*$10 donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Text HELP to 80077 for HELP. Full Terms: mGive.org/T Privacy Policy: mGive.org/P


Lauren Hoffmann, is the director of marketing, communications and membership for USTA Mid-Atlantic.