As part of their continued commitment to expanding the reach of tennis in Southern California, the Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) has partnered with the Western Los Angeles County Council’s Outreach division to bring tennis to under-served communities in parts of suburban Los Angeles.
The Outreach program focuses on bringing Scouting to boys from culturally diverse neighborhoods. By creating an environment with positive role models, a learn-by-doing approach, and peer interaction, the Scouts have an opportunity to develop new skills, and reinforce self-confidence, all while having fun.
The SCTA’s pilot Outreach Tennis program, which was rolled out in February, shares these values. With the help of SCTA Tennis Service Representatives and TGA Premier Tennis coaches, we have implemented an ongoing program at Casa Esperanza, North Valley Caring Services, and O’Melveny Elementary School. Through the game of tennis, we are able to engage the boys, teach them tennis basics, all while having a great time.
What does an Outreach tennis session look like? With the use of portable equipment specifically designed for kids, coaches can run the program just about anywhere, be it a classroom, playground or basketball court. The racquets pop up nets, and “courts” are smaller and the balls are larger. This combination of modified equipment allows the young players to handle the racquet with greater ease, in addition to making contact with the ball more consistently. The coaches work with the boys on drills and instructional games. (With tennis sized right, it encourages confidence building and skills acquisition.
We have taken multiple steps towards keeping the boys connected to tennis. Flyers have been passed out identifying local public courts in their neighborhood, as well as sharing information about our NJTL programs. There have also been lots of discussions about what it takes to get out there and play….a wall, a public court, perhaps a fellow Scout, a ball, and a racquet.
At the close of the Outreach tennis sessions in May, each participating Scout will get their own racquet to take home. It is the hope that we have given the Scouts the gift of tennis for a lifetime.