USTA-Nevada wants people to raise a racket in September.
The United States Tennis Association has declared that month as Tennis Month in Southern Nevada and plans to offer free tennis clinics.
Clinics are planned at about 10 sites, including country clubs and public facilities.
“We’ll provide free tennis to anybody and everybody who wants it,” said Ryan Wolfington, USTA-Nevada executive director. “If you need a racket, we’re going to have rackets available.”
Clinics normally run about $15 to $20, he said. After a participant signs up, the USTA office will email a coupon for a participating clinic closest to him.
“The Darling Center has the most variety,” he said. “They have, like, three different times, whereas the Hilton, the former Hilton (now LVH), only has them one day a week.”
Along with the free clinics, everyone will receive a free USTA-Nevada membership, which makes them eligible to attend USTA-Nevada’s numerous free community events, professional tennis exhibitions and parties for all ages.
Children up to age 10 will be given a free USTA junior membership as part of the initiative, called 10 and Under Tennis. It’s designed to help get more young children involved in the sport.
Wolfington called tennis a “sport of a lifetime” and said players can begin as young as 3 and that some people participate into their 90s.
“Our goal as a nonprofit is to get people to play tennis,” he said. “We’d like to see as many as we can sign up.”
He estimated 200 to 300 children would take advantage of the offer. When children arrive for their clinic, they won’t find nets up to their chins, and they can expect to not chase balls across a huge court. These days, kids can play on 36-foot-by-60-foot courts, and rackets are kid-sized. Special pop-up nets are also child-sized. Just as important, the balls are softer and bounce lower and slower, making them easier to hit and keep in play.
Such developments can help a child’s confidence level skyrocket.
“I think it’s making it a lot more fun,” said Janay Oakland, USTA-Nevada tennis service representative. “The kids aren’t so frustrated ... this way, they develop their strokes early and actually get in a rally. Kids can pick it up really quickly.”
The free USTA junior membership is good for one year. The normal cost is $19. It includes the Bounce newsletter.
The clinics are open to any Southern Nevada child or adult and are made possible through a grant from USTA, which has partnered with the city of Las Vegas and Clark County to make locations available for the clinics. Each site will have its own parameters.
For example, the Darling Tennis Center, 7901 W. Washington Ave., plans to offer clinics for an entire week. Lorenzi Park, 3333 W. Washington Ave., run by the city of Las Vegas, plans to offer a free clinic on Sundays all year.
Currently, about 7,000 people play league tennis in Las Vegas through USTA-Nevada. For those 10 or younger, there are roughly 800 junior members.
How has the economy affected USTA-Nevada?
“Believe it or not, and maybe because tennis is a reasonably priced thing, but our league numbers are up, our tournaments are up (and) membership is up,” Wolfington said. “We had the best league numbers in our history last year and our best membership numbers this year.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer at USTA-Nevada tennis events can call 702-792-8384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To participate in a clinic, visit tryusta.com/kids and use source code “Newgame6” or call 702-792-8384.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 702-387-2949.