I learned tennis the old fashioned way when I was 6 years old. My first lesson was given against a backboard which I still believe is the best way to learn, but then I’m old school. The latest way to teach tennis, as I learned when I attended the USTA Eastern Regional convention in January, is something called Quick Start Tennis or QST.
QST has a couple of stages but they both involve a smaller court and a different ball. The beginning stage is played across a regular tennis court for a 36-foot court. The ball is a large nerf-like foam ball which is very easy to hit. The net can be as simple as a piece of plastic tape stretched across the court, thus allowing play to continue if the ball happens to go under the net.
This latter feature best illustrates the point of the game: to let nothing stand in the way of having fun! I got to play the game myself at the convention and it is a lot of fun. Being a highly competitive adult, however, I played the game full throttle, rushing the net and smashing volleys and I had a ball! I think advanced players could have just as much (or more) fun playing this game as you would playing the conventional version.
Once the small game is mastered, students move up to an intermediate size court which is 60 feet long across a regular net. (A full tennis court is 78 feet long) The ball for this game looks like a regular tennis ball, but it has had the air pressure reduced so it doesn’t travel as fast. I didn’t find this game as much fun, but I suppose it makes it easier for beginners to work their way up to the full-size game.
The theory of QST makes a lot of sense. We don’t send Little Leaguers out to play in Yankee Stadium. We have them play on a field that is more their size and that is what QST does. The beauty of QST is you don’t even need a tennis court. It can be played in a gym, in a parking lot or even in your driveway or backyard.
On Saturday March 28, the Genesee Volley Tennis Club is sponsoring a workshop to learn about QST at the Holcomb School Gym on the campus of SUNY Geneseo. The workshop will be taught by Michelle Skelley a QST certified expert provided by the USTA. Michelle is a tennis pro at Wanakah Country Club in Hamburg, NY.
The seminar runs from 1-4 pm and is open to the general public. There is a $10 charge for curriculum materials. This seminar is designed for parents, coaches, gym teachers and recreation program directors. It is not meant for children, but the club will sponsor a childrens event later in the spring.
Hopefully, some of the people who attend the workshop will catch the QST fever and start programs of their own in local schools and parks. At least that’s the idea and that’s why the USTA is giving the club $800 of QST equipment to keep.
This could be the start of something big in the local tennis community and I hope you will consider attending. If you do, wear gym clothes and sneakers and be prepared to have fun! Please e-mail me or call me at 233-5338 to register or if you have any questions. See you there!