Image via Wikipedia
Tennis is currently ranked as the seventh most popular sport in the world, ahead of American football. So where have all the Americans gone? Where is the legacy of the greats like McEnroe and Agassi? Where is the new talent, and when will they reach the top?
The United States Tennis Association has put millions of dollars into the 10 and Under tennis program to bring new talent into the sport. However, more evidence is pointing to a lack of interest, as these children get older, due to the decreasing availability of well-maintained tennis courts at high schools and universities.
Shannon Dove of the Review Times, recently interviewed Aaron Sheets, a high school tennis coach who said he has a winning team of 19 players who must play at the local street courts, due to the poor condition of the tennis courts at the high school.
“There’s seven- to eight-foot gaps where my whole shoe could get caught and I could break my ankle easily,” Sheets said.
The cracks reach down into the foundation and no one from the school could remember that last time the courts were tended, but they all agreed that it had been a long time.
The problem reaches farther than high school and college level sports, tennis clubs have also neglected regular court maintenance.
A preservation council in New York recently applied the historical Forest Hills stadium, which hosted decades of U.S. Opens, for landmark status consideration. The request was denied and the owners of the stadium, The West Side Tennis Club, are considering a proposal from a developer who would turn the site into luxury condominiums.
The site will not be considered for preservation because of the “deteriorated state of the buildings and architectural features,” according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.
As with any untended building, the longer repairs are neglected, the larger the cost tends to be in the end, which could be why tennis grants for youth programs, like 10 and Under tennis, seem like the reasonable alternative.
However, once a child turns 11, what incentive do they have to continue in the sport?
The brightly colored 10 and Under court equipment instills so much enthusiasm in the youth crowd, that they have no choice but to fall in love with the sport. New court lines, scorekeepers, fresh windscreens, nets and a new coat of paint can have that same affect on a more mature crowd.
Regular court maintenance can increase court appeal, throw in a few tennis court benches and next thing you know, the crowds won’t leave.
The USTA offers several grants for different programs and different needs, visit their website usta.com for the application.
American tennis is in danger of losing new talent and wasting millions in youth tennis programs if high school and college tennis programs continue to fall through the cracks.
I found a great blog that has plenty of invaluable tips for building and maintaining tennis courts. This Tennis Court Construction blog has everything you need to know, should you decide to start the crusade to rejuvenate American interest in tennis.Related articles