Henderson indoor tennis facility opens with child-centered focus

Three-year-old Addison Lee rushes to the front door of Tennis WerX, tugs it open and runs over to her instructor, James Springer, who is already kneeling down to her eye level to receive her powerful high-five.

If her energy didn't show her excitement, then her ear-to-ear smile would be a second indicator.

To Addison, her two days a week at the facility are about fun and hanging out with Springer, not necessarily about learning to play tennis.

"Kids have a good time, and we sneak the tennis in," Springer said. "Our job is to enhance the lives of young kids. All you have to do is come with comfy clothes and a smile."

Tennis WerX, which opened more than two months ago at 980 American Pacific Drive, was designed to be a children-centered environment that provides tennis lessons for various ages and skill levels.

Children progress in ability and self-esteem, Springer said.

The center has about 100 students taking private, semiprivate and group lessons. Class sizes usually are about six students.

"They can start when they are old enough to communicate," Springer said, "so pretty much 3 years old until they are tournament-ready."

Springer has been playing tennis for about 30 years. Everyone in his family plays and teaches it, too.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, he had been giving lessons around the city when he decided to open his own facility.

Springer noticed that during the summer and winter, people dropped off on their training because they didn't want to deal with the weather.

"So they leave the sport for a month or two," Springer said. "So not only do (businesses) lose clientele, people lose that growth period."

Having Tennis WerX, an indoor studio, helps keep training year-round.

With everything Springer envisioned for the facility, the one element he focused on was to make the center about the children, from the splashes of color to the way the facility is designed.

"It is all about them," Springer said.

Springer also created a room where parents can watch their children during lessons. This separation allows the children to interact with the coaches without parents interrupting the teaching process.

"It allows kids to deliver their own answers," Springer said. "Sometimes their thoughts and ideas don't match up with their parents'. We endorse their personalities and who they want to be."

Springer added that children might open up more if they feel they have more freedom to be heard and express their ideas.

There is a glass window on the door to the court that is at a child's eye level, another touch that stresses Springer's child-friendly focus. When entering the court, all children, and some parents, give Springer and the other children a high-five, which Springer feels helps players become more comfortable with each other.

Because he started the sport when he was young, Springer knows what the children are going through. He tries not to get mad when they talk back. He won't get mad when they make a mistake.

"It's because I used to do the same thing," Springer said.

Instead, he explains how he was when he was being coached at their age, which helps the players relate to him and make positive changes.

Gwynne Lee, Addison's mom and a Summerlin resident, said she and her husband discussed putting Addison in a sport she could play all her life. They thought of tennis but didn't know what a good starting age was.

"We saw James' van and ads in the neighborhood," Lee said.

Lee decided to try out the new studio, and Addison fell in love with the lessons.

"This is the thing I use to get her to go to sleep at night," Lee said. "I tell her, 'You have to go to sleep so you can go play tennis tomorrow.' "

Addison comes about two days a week to practice.

"It's not just them doing drills," Lee said. "It's them having fun. He is incredibly good with kids."

But while having fun, Lee has seen her daughter's skills improve. Addison can hit balls over the net and is getting better at different swings.

Springer chose his first location in Henderson out of convenience but hopes to open other locations in the valley, possibly Summerlin because several clients live there. He also foresees expanding to other cities.

For now, he enjoys working with the people who come in.

"I've been able to get a little younger every year," Springer said.

For more information, visit systemworkstennis.com.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.