Photo by Johnny Jackson
Physical education teachers in Henry County Schools underwent training last spring with representatives of the Southern Crescent Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association.
McDONOUGH — Tennis has become popular among students since Henry County Schools began incorporating it into its curriculum and extracurricular activities.
Tussahaw Elementary School’s tennis club roster filled up within 20 minutes, said Brent Watts, the school’s physical education instructor.
“We have over 50 on the waiting list,” said Watts.
Watts’ school is one of 11 in the school district piloting tennis clubs this year. The district joined the Southern Crescent Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association in an agreement last spring to implement a Henry County Youth Tennis program designed to introduce students to the sport.
Henry County Schools spokesman J.D. Hardin said the district was approached by members of the associations who offered to provide tennis lessons and equipment at no charge to the schools.
The associations began training with tennis instructors late last spring. Experts trained teachers, after-school program coordinators and parents in the proper techniques of teaching tennis to elementary students.
The United States Tennis Association provided lessons for instructors like Watts to teach during and after school. Ten and Under Tennis is a physical education curriculum designed specifically for the skills and abilities of younger players, while Kids Tennis Club is an extracurricular program for after-school clubs.
Watts said his school’s club was divided by grade on a first come, first served basis. Space was limited because of the number of instructors and amount of equipment available to the club which has 25 members in grades three, four and five.
The club will meet once a week for 90 minutes after school, he said. Sessions will be held when school is in instruction through April 24.
“It’s going well,” he said. “We had our first practice on Oct. 24.”
Watts introduced students to the basic tennis terms last week and had them demonstrate different tennis swings barehanded.
“The goal is to put rackets in their hands Wednesday,” he said.
Watts started the school year off by incorporating “Ten and Under Tennis” into the physical education class.
“I consider tennis a lifelong sport,” he said. “It helps with agility, endurance, hand-eye coordination and even flexibility. The earlier you learn to play, of course, the better you are going to be at it.”
Watts said he hopes to have a tennis match against one of the other pilot schools in the spring to give students the experience of a competitive tennis tournament.
“The kids want to play but they don’t know how,” Watts said. “Everybody can’t play basketball, baseball or football. This is an outlet to another activity — another sport — and we’re hoping they will capitalize on the opportunity.”