Three Cheers for Tennis in Chicago
This week we welcomed Kristi Gaylord, the Director of Social Media for Midtown Athletic Clubs, to tell us about the Tennis Explorers Program. Read on to learn more about Midtown’s unique tennis programs and CPD tennis programs in our beautiful parks.
Tennis Explorers is Midtown Chicago’s fun and creative approach to giving 3 and 4 year old children a great start in tennis and a boost in developing their motor skills, which are the foundation of all athletics. Using a careful blend of developmentally sound physical activities, tennis skills, and storytelling in an on-court environment, kids and parents get to play together and have fun.
Tennis Explorers is unique because the emphasis is on play, movement, and cultural awareness. We created the program with childhood development professionals, so literacy, counting, and social skills are incorporated with each lesson. The kids spend the first five minutes of each lesson in a “circle time” atmosphere on-court, listening to their tennis coach read them a story about a different country from their Tennis Explorers book. They learn how to say, “Hello” in the language of that country, which is always a huge hit with the kids.
Once the story is done, the class is kept in constant motion, which is a perfect format for active preschoolers. They work on balance, coordination, both large and small motor skills, and the proper way to hold and swing the most adorable, age-appropriate racquet you've ever seen. The racquet was designed especially for Midtown by Wilson Tennis, and each Tennis Explorer receives one, along with a backpack.
The tennis coaches flawlessly integrate parent participation with each lesson. Parents toss the kids balls to hit, or even participate in a balance drill along with the children.
Parents aren’t usually able to participate in softball, or soccer, or hockey right alongside their kids, so Tennis Explorers provides an excellent opportunity to join young children in their first foray into sports. This popular children’s tennis program for both members and non-members has instilled within its participants a love for the game that will grow as they do.
For more information on Tennis Explorers, visit midtown.com/tennisexplorers.
TENNIS IN CHICAGO PARKS
There are over 140 tennis courts in the Chicago Park District. Whether you’re just looking to hit some tennis balls or to play full sets, there are courts available across the city for your enjoyment. The CPD offers a variety of free tennis camps for kids at 16 parks during the summer. These programs run from July 5th to August 12th, and culminate in a “play day” where the different camps have the opportunity to play with each other. For a full list of CPD tennis programs, click here.
Midtown Chicago has enjoyed a supportive partnership with Chicago Parks for years. Midtown Chicago offered weekly tennis lessons at 36 parks to adults and junior players at no or low cost. They also offered daily tennis camps at park sites where lessons had not been offered in the past. They hired an average of 20 tennis coaches each summer who taught the lessons and camps. One of these tennis coaches, Ron Rogala, remains with Midtown as a coach today.
Their outdoor Velocity Junior Competitive Tennis Camp is offered at the Waveland Park tennis courts for 13 consecutive weeks from June through August for kids ages 10-18. Midtown averages 20 players per day for a total of 1,300 participants each summer. The camp is led by 4 to 6 high performance tennis coaches and a fitness trainer. Our outdoor program has been offered at Waveland for over 10 years. In addition, their patented beginner tennis program, Tennis in No Time, took place in Oz and Harold Washington Parks in June and July of 2015. 96 players learned to play the game that summer.