Instructor Jim Kocsis directs his students, including; left to right, Christian Jagodics, Addy Newton and Kennedy Lanteigne, in the proper tennis techniques at Uplands Elementary School this week. Mark Brett/Western News

Budding tennis stars learn the ropes

Students at local elementary schools get some lessons in tennis

Tennis everyone?

While the weather outside may be frightful, hundreds of elementary school students are going to have the opportunity to learn how to play tennis indoors.

Brett Beckingham keeps his eye on the ball during this hand-eye drill. (Mark Brett/Western News)

As part of a Tennis Canada and Tennis B.C. initiative, Jim Kocsis, a former high school coach and Building Tennis Community Tennis Champion and others are going to three schools to do some grassroots instruction.

“We are hoping to introduce tennis to as many kids in the local elementary schools as possible,” said Kocsis. “Really, these kids are our future tennis players and I want to make them and their parents aware of the opportunity to play this lifetime sport.

“We’re here at Uplands this week and next and Columbia the week after and Wiltse in the spring.”

They began with a pilot project last year at Columbia where about 100 students got some basic skills training.

“After the instruction we had about 30 kids playing once a week for six weeks but it was structured, supervised play and the kids are really good because they’re keen,” said Kocsis. “It’s not just a free for all, banging balls off walls and each other’s heads.”

There is no cost for the instruction for the kids in grades three, four and five and is part of their physical education class.

To make the learning easier and more fun, the equipment is “user-friendly” — smaller racquets and lower nets and played on a badminton-size court.

This program dovetails with similar opportunities that young people have to play tennis through Penticton Parks and Recreation and the Penticton Tennis Club.

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