(KId’s play) Kids finally have the ball in their court as tennis in its new tiny-tot avatar gains popularity, says Varuni Khosla.
Ankita Bhambri’s parents introduced her to tennis when she was just five. She is now former Indian tennis professional. Bhambri would play three times a week in Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex. Here coaches taught on concrete courts with heavy, hard, wooden racquets and zippy tennis balls.(KId’s play )
As a beginner, Bhambri went on to become a seven-time ITF singles champion. She also recalls not being able to lob balls across the net. “two decades ago, things were very different for children playing tennis,’’ she says. For, it was the era of wooden tennis racquets and high nets-even for youngsters. “My father would lower the net for me to play,’’ says the 26-year-old.
Today, Bhambri feels that it’s ‘Advantage Children’ when it comes to tennis. There’s been a sea change in the way children are learning to play the game. That is, ever since 2011 when the All India Tennis Asociation recognized a new, fun and more exciting form of the sport: Tennis 10s. (KId’s play )
Call it Tennis 10s, Mini Tennis, Toddlers Tennis or Progressive Tennis. But they all mean the same. It’s a specialized form of tennis. Because it is created especially for children under 10.
Now, Bobby Singh’s Peninsula Tennis Academy, in Delhi’s Pitampura DDA Sports Complex, conducts the Munchkin Tennis Programme. The Academy has 500 students across its 21 branches in and around Delhi. The Academy has made its tennis courts less intimidating by painting cartoon characters on some walls. So, “This helps children warm up to the game,’’ says Singh.
The newly recognized sport is like ‘gully cricket’. And one can play on any flat surface, “while fundamentally it is the same as the adult game. But mini tennis uses smaller and narrower nets, tennis courts, smaller and lighter racquets and balls that bounce less,’’ says Gaurav Natekar, CEO, Mahesh. Not only these, but also you may follow the next……………
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