Guest post by Robin Bateman
The other weekend, when many Middle Georgians were diving into backyard swimming pools, splashing down a slide at Sandy Beach Park, tubing down the Ocmulgee River, or staying cool inside an air-conditioned movie theater, over one hundred juniors grabbed their tennis racquets to compete in a three-day weekend team tennis competition.
The tournament, The Macon Area Summer 2018 Championships, JTT, was held at two main sites, John Drew Smith Tennis Center and Healy Point Tennis Center, aka Canongate, both of which are located in Macon. Macon-area youth competed in the team tennis competition, many for the first time.
Five age-divisions formed into teams and competition began Friday afternoon. One of the largest age divisions playing was the Red Ball 8 & under group. Four teams held five to six kids each. If you’re not familiar with the changes that have taken place, competitive youth tennis has undergone a major format change over the last five years. Like tee ball, Red Ball, targeted towards younger players, uses smaller tennis courts, shorter racquets and low-compression balls to provide a kid-friendly environment that makes learning how to play tennis fast and fun!
Most tennis players compete in individual USTA sanctioned tournaments. What makes team tennis different and fun is the ability to play doubles matches. Plus, being on a team amps up the competition levels, giving younger competitors extra confidence, and it underscores team camaraderie. Most teams create cute or crazy names and design t-shirts displaying their team “mascot”.
Tattnall Square Tennis Center entered five teams in the tournament and it was hard to miss all those tigers running around in various shades of orange t-shirts sporting the “Tattnall Tiger Tennis: Where Hustle Happens” slogan.
“I liked playing in doubles matches,” said Mary Katherine Lewis, a rising sixth grader who has trained at Tattnall Square Tennis Center for several years. “I especially liked the mixed doubles,” Lewis said. (Mixed doubles is played when one boy and one girl team up to compete against another boy/girl doubles team.) “Boys hit the ball with [pace]. They don’t hold back. It gives me a chance to increase my level.”
Even the Red Ball kids loved doubles competition. Colleen Potter, who got to play doubles with one of her best friends, Stella Blankenship, said, “Doubles is fun because if you miss the ball, your partner has a chance to hit it.” Potter, who has never competed in tennis before, began training earlier in the school year at Tattnall Tennis Center’s afterschool program. Her team, Bad to the Bone(Tigers), placed second in the three-day tournament.
For players in older age divisions, winning teams in each flight will advance to the upcoming Georgia State Junior Team Tennis Championships which will be held in Macon beginning July 20th.
Tattnall Square Tennis Center offers summer tennis programs for children, teens, and adults, including summer day camp with tennis instruction for school-aged children and competitive play for all ages. They also offer youth competitive play through Tattnall Tiger Junior Team Tennis. Please check out all of their programming at Tattnall Square Tennis Center on Facebook for more information or call (478) 216-5909.
For stats and standing of the local league, visit https://tennislink.usta.com/TeamTennis/Main/Home.aspx online.
Robin Bateman is the facilities coordinator for the Tattnall Square Tennis Center located in Tattnall Square Park.