New Tennis Frontier: Modified Tennis For All

  • February 15, 2017

For the past three years promoting modified tennis, or Masters Tennis, for adults in Florida, and being the spokesperson nationally has given me the ability to successfully distribute innovative information, education, assistance and creative management tools to providers. Offering modified program formats and equipment to adults has created better customer satisfaction and sustainable participation in tennis for players who might not have decided to play.

Since 2013, almost 50 new Florida facilities and over 12 outside state providers are offering modified tennis programming. By modifying equipment, court environment options and formats modified tennis is becoming a new tennis frontier. Through helping providers plan demos and introductory educational events on modified tennis, I have been educating peers and pros to a new perspective about the needs of the average or low-skilled recreational players. I have seen a dramatic shift towards more of a team approach to this philosophy by input from past players, new players, and non-players bringing a better understanding from pros, and more gratification for players.

During my time with USTA FL, I have had the pleasure of being on the grassroots level with players, providers, recreational directors, and over a dozen special program Ambassadors, while listening, learning and collecting data on statewide best practices and testimonials. In addition, I bring my wellness and health background, personal coaching skills, and holistic approach into this environment in order to help craft customizable programs for facility success and player satisfaction. I have researched, participated in, and had multiple conversations with founders of a variety of alternative programs evolving nationally and internationally. Some of these include: Pop Tennis created by Ken Lindner out of California, touchtennis created by Rashid Ahmad out of London, One-On-One Doubles Tournaments created by Ed Krass out of Bradenton, FL, Beach Tennis originating from Ravenna, Italy, and XGLOsive Tennis created by Michael Cordova out of Orlando, FL. There is also adaptive tennis options such as Blind Tennis, created in Japan and is now an international sport, and deaf tennis, part of an international competitive sport, and not a barrier to Lee Duck hee, #143 rd ranked in the world, 2nd highest ranked 18 under player. He is the first deaf tennis player to reach this level of success.

We need to encourage and embrace the need for breaking out of our traditional mold to communities that might see that if program modifications were offered, more people could experience tennis their way.  Pros need to be encouraged to consider different kinds of tennis experiences for their communities, understanding that this only adds new avenues for revenue.  Benefits for the player from the shorter formats mean less time competing and more people participating. These choices give everyone a chance to try new and exciting tennis experiences.

With the national fitness and obesity crisis coming to the foreground of the tennis industry, more adaptations need to be made to make participating in tennis doable, fun and easier on the body. There is currently no adult progression focus, which continues to be a subject of disconnect and disconcern. What’s better than serving the adults who provide the support, funding and transportation to youth-oriented events and programs? This demographic continues to feed our organizational revenue and boost participation numbers because those playing are their children. If we don’t service these adults who enable our youth to participate, how will the industry survive once our youth see Mom and Dad not involved? Remember, not everyone can send their child to training camps and travel with their child or homeschool them.  We might have more players stay in the game if more parents were also included to participate in some way.

Much more research, testing, and information is needed to be done for this demographic to be properly represented in our industry. My mission to provide evolving education, resource information, and support for this newly identified but currently undervalued demographic is just beginning. Hopefully, through these grassroots efforts and input from ‘you the people’, the tennis industry will expand its connections to the broader populations of those who used to play, those who want innovative fun, and non-players who may be perfect candidates for different tennis options.

For more information on how you can bring different tennis experiences to your communities, please send me your comments at info@whamit.net.

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