Playtime: Options for kids who want to give tennis a try

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Junior tennis is offered at Edmonds’  Harbor Square Athletic Club. (Photo courtesy Harbor Square)

After my middle schooler suffered a concussion in his main sport this winter, we found out just how important exercise and, additionally, a team sport/group activity was for him. He went from hour-long practices twice a week and a game on the weekend with locker room time before and after, to not only no sports, but no video games, which was another way he socialized outside of school. Once he was cleared by his doctor for non-contact activity, I was tasked with finding something for him to do. Given some great local resources, that ended up being easier and more successful than I could have imagined.

The first round of success was the teen swim classes at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. It turns out the kids who didn’t necessarily take to swim lessons when they were younger were a good grouping. The progress he made in just a few lessons was incredible and as each of the sessions started, I saw other parents go through the same cycle of “I hope this works” to “I can’t believe how well this works!”

As the weather got better, I got an email from his middle school with a flyer from Move 60! featuring “Free Tennis Lessons For Teens.” They offered four different 75-minute sessions at different schools and for different levels of play (beginner or advanced beginner and intermediate.) Now this wasn’t the tough sell I had imagined for my teenager, but to be fair, I promised a minute of Fortnite for every minute of tennis.

On the first day, Coach Chris Gonzales, a USPTA Certified Instructor and Edmonds School District P. E. teacher, told the players that she wanted to send more kids to our high schools interested and prepared for tennis. She started off with introductions and then a mix of drills and games that were fun enough that my oldest told me he loved it and asked me if he could attend one of the other days offered as well.

I spoke with Jenni McCloughan, Move 60! coordinator, and Jennie Hershey, Move 60! coordinator and K-12 Physical Education & Health Content Lead, about the program, which Hershey calls a “great success.” They told me that this was the first time in the eight years that they’ve been doing Move 60! in the district that they’ve held this tennis program and “would love” to do it again. Calling tennis a “lifelong sport,” the pair are strongly encouraging Coach Chris to bring the program back.

All three of us Jennifers on the phone call agreed that the unique “see if you like it” aspect was beneficial. The lack of pressure or long-term commitment is something I credit with my son’s willingness to try something new. We all also agreed that Coach Chris has that special something that makes it possible to manage double-digit middle schoolers moving through drills and playing games with ease. I will definitely be following the program and will cover it if it returns next year. You can always check for registration and contact information at the district’s Move 60! page.

While we’re talking about Move 60! it’s a good time to remind you of the summer option. On Monday through Thursday at 11:15 a.m., from July 1 through Aug. 22, you can get lunch and “free, fun exercise” with Move 60! at South Lynnwood Park. McCloughan and Hershey also mentioned that this park has a track around it as an option for waiting adults.

For the middle schoolers whose interests were sparked with the class or who play at one of the many local tennis clubs, I wanted to get some more information about tennis at our high schools. I spoke with Katt Lewis, District Athletics Office coordinator, who told me that tennis, which is available at all four comprehensive  high schools in the district, is a no-cut sport, meaning if you go out for tennis you will be on the team. I also learned that the boys’ season is in the fall and the girls’ season is in spring. You can find more on which sports are offered in this district here or by contacting your student’s school.

TGA Premier Sports also offers local lessons. (Photo courtesy TGA Sports)

In going down the tennis rabbit hole after the Move 60! session was a hit, I found that there are different kinds of options available locally. Coach Chris let the kids know that there are local private tennis options including Harbor Square (which was very helpful when I called to ask questions about the junior drop-in lessons and Friday Match Play), Forest Crest Athletic Club in Mountlake Terrace, and Klahaya Swim and Tennis Club, also in Edmonds. Mountlake Terrace is offering a summer team and youth lessons, and I also found three tennis options in Edmonds: Skyhawks, TGA Premier Sports, and Coach Chris is giving her own youth, teen and adult tennis lessons and a summer tennis team at Old Woodway High School.

There are a lot of options for lessons with Coach Chris starting July 8 and lasting to mid-August. You can learn how to play tennis with the emphasis on fun, drills and skills, basic instruction, sportsmanship, and games” with the age ranges, 6+, 12+, and 15+. Team tennis is a chance to “learn the rules of play and improve your skills in a positive experience.” Teams are grouped by age and ability with matches against other recreation departments. For more information, you can reach Chris Gonzales at [email protected] or 206-851-6739

The City of Mountlake Terrace is offering weekly tennis camps/lessons separating the players by age groups with kids 7 to 9 in one session and those 10 to 13 in another. Practices are Tuesday through Thursday each week with matches on Fridays. The sessions start July 2, with the last week starting Aug. 28.

Players ages 10 to 18 have the option to join the USA 123 Jr. Tennis Team. The seven-week program has practices Tuesday through Thursday 1 to 3 p.m. with weekly games on Fridays.

The prerequisite for this team is “completion of one session of beginner lessons, or demonstrated ability.” For more information or registration you can visit CityofMLT.com or call 425-776-9173.

Skyhawks and TGA Premier Sports are groups that I see yard signs for around the schools I frequent. I don’t have experience with either group yet, but they both have pretty organized websites and offer different local sports.

Skyhawks is offering tennis through Edmonds Parks and Recreation for players ages 6 to 12. The camp is 9 to noon Monday through Friday — the weeks of July 15, Aug. 5, and Aug – and Au. 26 — is held at Old Woodway High School. Skyhawks says this camp is “perfect for the beginning to intermediate” tennis players. You can register for this option through Edmonds Parks and Recreation at RecZone.org or by calling 425-771-0230.

TGA Premier Sports is offering Youth Tennis from 9 to 11:30 a.m., the weeks of July 15, Aug. 5, and Aug. 26, at the tennis courts at Civic Field. They offer a “low camper to instructor ratio and group pairings by age and skill” with “station-based instruction.” More information and registration for this camp can be found at PlayTGA.com.

Jen Marx

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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