Body ball, lobster claws, walk the dog, and bucket head – those are just some of the fun tennis activities that awaited 180 local elementary and middle school students at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 24, 2019.
130 kids from Cypress Springs Elementary and 50 from Bridge Prep Academy were invited to the Campus for Kids Day at the 2019 Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals, a collaborative effort between USTA Florida and the USTA, spearheaded by USTA Florida Tennis Service Representative Megan Ryan.
“Anytime the USTA Florida Section and USTA National can work together and support one another, the event is even more special,” said Ryan. “We are so lucky to be right next door to our national office.”
The Kids’ Day was an effort to get the students amped to cheer on the 16-and-under teams from all over the world competing in the Junior Davis and Fed Cup Finals at the National Campus from Sept. 24-29, 2019. The elementary students were split into groups to represent different countries and support their athletes: USA, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Brazil, and Canada.
After welcoming all the students into one of the championship courts and announcing what countries each group represented, they learned about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle from USTA National Manager and Head Coach of Team USA Wheelchair Jason Harnett.
Then it was off to the courts to pick up a racquet, grab some tennis balls, and learn the game. Each group rotated through a series of fun activities to practice their tennis skills – with no previous tennis ability required.
From following directions and learning how to balance a ball during a game of ‘red light, green light’, to the focus and quick-thinking needed for a bout of ‘body ball’ – coaches guided the kids through each activity to make sure everyone got the chance to play, laugh, and enjoy the experience. The rotation on the court kept the students engaged in what was going on and allowed them to not only learn the sport, but also practice qualities they could use off the court such as teamwork and sportsmanship.
“I hope we were able to show the kids that tennis can be a game that will help them build friendships and learn skills they’ll use for a lifetime,” said Ryan.
Each student was able to walk away from the event with an understanding of how fun and inclusive the sport of tennis is, with some even wanting to play in the future.
“The looks on the kids’ faces said it all,” commented Ryan. “The day was full of energy as the kids cheered on different countries with the special posters they decorated, got to partake in fun on-court activities, learn more about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and be surrounded by some of the best USTA Florida and USTA National employees and volunteers.”
Looking for more ways to play tennis? Visit www.ustaflorida.com/community to learn more about the opportunities offered.
You can also watch all the live action from the 2019 Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals at the USTA National Campus, via the Tennis Channel. To tune in, click here.