By Rick Musselman, Belvoir Eagle Sports EditorMay 10, 2013
More than 40 tennis enthusiasts of all ages took advantage of ideal weather Saturday to participate in a morning of free tennis lessons and match-play games during the spring 2013 Tennis Festival at the14th Street court on Fort Belvoir's South Post.
The event, sponsored by the Fort Belvoir Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; the United States Tennis Association; the Art of Tennis and Play Time Tennis programs; and the Yellow Ribbon Fund wounded Soldier charity organization, provided players with an opportunity to learn basic tennis skills from Alex Chan, a USTA and Virginia Community Tennis certified instructor and representative. Several Play Time Tennis and Art of Tennis coaches and volunteer instructors were also available to give advice and tips.
According to Chan, the event is aimed to introduce Fort Belvoir's community members to the game, provide basic lessons in serving and returning the ball and to build athletic confidence.
"This event provides instruction to anyone interested in coming out to learn," he said. "We have one area of the court for more advanced players and we have other areas that are more for Family play -- beginners who'd like to try the game out. It's also a way for us to advertise the lessons that are starting here this month."
"When the students come in we start by sizing their racquets and introducing them to grip techniques, and make sure they know about safety issues, like keeping from stepping on a ball behind them to avoid twisted ankles," said Play Time Tennis instructor Lee Ellis. "Then we get their groups set up and demonstrate a couple of basic things; kid's learn by watching, and that's a very important part of this."
Students participating in Saturday's Tennis Festival received one-on-one instruction from Chan, instructor Nhat Nguyen, Ellis, Play Time Tennis instructor Kitty Morgan, volunteer Dawn Gertsch, and several parents. Players spent the morning refining their skills, learning how to keep score and engaging in regulation matches.
Chan added that demand for tennis instruction at Fort Belvoir has steadily increased since last year and he and his staff now offer a greater number of courses to meet the growing interest in the sport on post.
"We've expanded the number of classes; we used to have one class for 10 and (younger) players, one class for juniors (teens) and one for adults. Now we have multiple classes for multiple age groups," he said. "We have a 10 and (younger) and an 8 and (younger) class now, and we have one for beginner adults and intermediate adults."
A complete listing of the tennis lessons offered at Belvoir is available at www.belvoirmwr.com.
Tennis enthusiasts interested in pursuing formal lessons here can expect to experience a comprehensive introduction to the game.
"Anyone from kids to adults, beginners to advanced, can come out and learn. We teach everything," he said. "For the adults we go through forehand, backhand, volleys, serves, developing strategy, the whole process. For the kids we basically teach the same things but we try to make it more of a "play to learn" style of teaching. They're playing games with each other, which allows them to interact more and they can teach each other along with the coach. The Play Time Tennis coaches teach the 10 and younger classes and Art of Tennis instructors teach the teens and adults. Both of those groups are local non-profit organizations that provide tennis to the community while USTA Virginia supports the program."
For more information regarding Fort Belvoir's youth tennis program, call (703) 805-2532 or visit www.belvoirmwr.com.