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TENNIS FOR ADULT BEGINNERS

We all know how tough it can be for adults to get into our sport and stay in it. The most frightening number I remember from my time on the USTA Tennislink Team is 75%+ meaning more than 75% of adults getting into the sport of tennis get out of it again within a year. This number is even scarier when you consider that there is a good chance many of those adults who picked up the sport in 2020 may decide on other fitness avenues like gyms once those become widely available again.

If you have highly successful adult beginner programs that are so good you want to share them with our readers, please let us know.

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  • Jeff Richards, Calabasas, California: The Instructing Pro is the Key to the Success of an Adult Beginners Program
     

  • Geoff Griffin, San Diego, California: Make Learning Fun and Use Progressions to Get Them Better With Every Lesson
     

  • Ken Stuart, Newport, California: Provide Them With a Great Experience and They Become Tennis Aficionados
     

  • Mark Spearman, Laguna Niguel, California: Free Clinics and Free Live Drill Doubles Play

Jeff Richards
Tournament Director at Top Seed Tennis Academy, Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, Calabasas, California

 

Jeff Richards is a USPTA-certified Tournament Director in Southern California. He is also the creator of “The Weakest Dink, the worldʼs first tennis game show”. The Weakest Dink is the combination of clinic-style, fast-paced court action, rocking and hip music, and funny MC announcements with play-by- play.

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TENNIS FOR ADULT BEGINNERS

The Instructing Pro is Key to the Success of an Adult Beginners Program

By Jeff Richards

Introducing adult beginning tennis players to the game and sustaining their interest has always been a difficult issue for tennis clubs and teaching pros.  It is in their benefit to get them “plugged in” because they are enthusiastic and eager to learn and play.

 

Why adults take up tennis and start beginning lessons can sometimes determine their path toward improvement and playing the game.

 

In many cases, two or more friends take up the game together and learn to play with each other.  Sometimes adults take up the game to play with other family members.  I even had one player tell me she took up tennis as a career move……….her boss played tennis!

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Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

When you ask adults why they decided to take up tennis, in every case, one of the main reasons is exercise.  Emphasizing the exercise aspect can become problematic if they don’t have anyone else to play with.  I once had a 50-year-old woman take beginning tennis lessons for exercise but she gave it up because she had no one to practice with. 

 

It is not always easy for a tennis instructor to find other “compatible” adult beginners to play with.   If you’re at a club, there should be a coordinated effort between all the pros, to hook up their beginning adults together for practice and playing.  At Calabasas, we have had occasional socials for adult beginners, or get several beginning adults to sign up and put them all on a beginner court with a pro.  Once they meet each other and exchange contacts, they can start playing together on their own.

Some clubs and organizations have “game getter” databases to connect beginners with each other.  These game-getter programs are not always entirely successful because by the time someone contacts a player on the list, their schedule has changed or they are unavailable, or even that person has progressed out of the beginner stages.

 

Setting up a free adult beginning tennis mixer is a good way to get beginners together.  However, the pro or organizer must not be short-sighted and thinking he or she is “working for free” because the reward will be there with clinics being formed and/or more private or semiprivate tennis instruction.

 

In any case, the instructing pro should take an active role in helping and assisting a student find other beginners to play with.

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Geoff Griffin

Director of Tennis at the Balboa Tennis Club (Morley Field), San Diego,  California

 

Geoff Griffin has been the Tennis Director at Balboa Tennis Club for 32 years and co-founded the Wounded Warrior Tennis Program. He leads and coordinates all the on-court instruction and is involved in every aspect of the program.

TENNIS FOR ADULT BEGINNERS

Make Learning Fun and Use Progressions to Get Them Better With Every Lesson

By Geoff Griffin

As with the vast majority of clubs, our club has been packed with all levels of adult and junior players.  25 courts and now a waiting list for memberships for the first time in our history.  Courts, as well as clinics and privates are booked solid all day and every day.

 

With tennis as popular as it is right now, even inexperienced pros are going to get lots of work.  It's up to the best pros to really step up and do their best work with beginning players.  Because my clinics are not designed for total beginners, it is private and semi privates lessons where they need to start.

 

My goal with every beginning student is to make learning fun and use progressions to get them better with every lesson.  Fun is very important even in a private lesson.  A lot of new adult players are taking a chance, not knowing if they are going to like the sport.  I take great pride in knowing that when the pandemic is behind us, that these students are not going to go back to what they did before, but will continue to play tennis the rest of their lives. 

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Ken Stuart
Former owner (31 years) of Palisades Tennis Club, Newport Beach, California

Ken Stuart has had a distinguished tennis career with over 60 years of playing, coaching, and promoting our sport. He designed, managed, and owned successful tennis clubs. He hosted countless activities and events for players and charities throughout Southern California and for participants around the world. Ken Stuart is also the man who brought the Davis Cup to Newport Beach in 1997. Ken sold the Palisades Tennis Club and retired in 2020.

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TENNIS FOR ADULT BEGINNERS

Provide Them With a Great Experience and They Become Tennis Aficionados

By Ken Stuart

I’m pretty proud of what we do for the “beginners” in tennis here at Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to get them at our facility or on a court. Once they have a great tennis experience I believe they become like all of us - avid tennis aficionados.

 

We started this program about ten years or so ago.  

 

Once we implemented this concept it took off so we didn’t know what to call it so we had a contest to find the winner of the name it contest.  (see the end of this note)

 

Here is how it works. We have four courts for these adult beginners on both Saturday and Sunday mornings at “prime time”, which is 11:30 to 1:30. Originally we limited it to beginners, 3.0 and 3.5 players but we have seen that many of our 4.0 and 4.5 players “sneak in occasionally. That’s because it is pure fun.

 

The concept is simple. Open to men & women. We put four people on a court and they play a total of four games. It is either men’s doubles, women’s doubles, or mixed. And it changes every round. The whole purpose is social and to make tennis fun. We always include a couple of pitchers of beer complimentary as well as some “special” spiked punch on both days.

 

It is quick, it is easy and is is very, very fun. No one judges anyone on their relative skill in the game because the focus is fun.

 

We open it to potential members, new members, longtime members and non-members.

 

As I mentioned above we always provide a pitcher or two each day. Years ago we wanted to find and appropriate name for the activity and we had a contest with the winner getting a significant prize.

 

In the end the winner emphasized that he considered it free Cervesa day. He came up with the name that has stuck with us through all the years: “SERVE ACES”

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Mark Spearman
CEO & Director of Tennis, Laguna Niguel Racquet Club and Tennis Club of Monarch Beach, Laguna Niguel, California

 

Mark Spearman played all four years at Cal Lutheran and was named an All-American and No.7 in the nation NAIA. He also played professionally on the ATP tour from 84-88. Mark has been Tennis Director at Laguna Niguel Racquet club the past 25 years. He has coached top-ranked juniors and touring pros. He is also Volunteer Assistant Coach at BYU Athletics and Co-head Coach of Dana Hills High School where they won three CIF Championships and a state title.

TENNIS FOR ADULT BEGINNERS

Free Clinics and Free Live Drill Doubles Play

By Mark Spearman

At Laguna Niguel Racquet Club we have made a big push for the beginner player. In the past 5 months, we have offered free clinics twice a week to the 3.0 player. We advertised to non-members to entice them into seeing we do cater to the beginner.

 

We now have a solid group of players who have joined and been upgrading their game to these few clinics and match play. Now we do a free live drill doubles play once a month to get them court position etc. This in turn with our match arranging has given us leverage into keeping them active and enjoying the game.

 

It's not rocket science but is the only way we have been able to keep them as members.

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