April 14, 2010

Meet the new pro at Try Tennis Day

As published in The Erin Advocate

Smaller racquets, smaller courts and slower balls are some of the innovations planned by Erin's new tennis pro, to help beginners have fun while learning the basics of the game.

As a coach for 35 years, Doug Ing works on both the physical and mental skills that tennis players need in order to meet their goals – whether it is being competitive in a tournament, or simply getting the ball over the net.

Adults and children are invited to attend Try Tennis Day, hosted by the Erin Tennis Club this Saturday, April 17, from 9 am to 1 pm, at the courts behind Centre 2000. It is free and racquets are provided, along with prizes and a barbeque.

A club membership costs $85 for adults, $50 for juniors and $140 for a family. It includes free use of the courts, house league play, a singles ladder, various themed fun nights, tournaments, junior house league on Tuesday mornings (starting July 6), ladies' tennis on Saturday mornings and men's tennis on Sunday mornings.

It also includes four free group lessons, on Monday evenings starting April 26 for the kids, and on Tuesday evenings starting April 27 for adults. For more information on the club, call Brian Gentles at 519-833-9715.

Children as young as five and six are encouraged to learn the game. Special equipment helps beginners of all ages, but it is especially important for the younger ones. The softer balls are less likely to go flying out of control and Ing starts with a mini court, just 36 feet. Students can keep the ball going back and forth, even on their first day, which is almost as fun as winning.

It is called Progressive Tennis, an official coaching initiative of Tennis Canada. There are three training stages: each step brings a livelier ball, longer racquet and larger court size. This helps the player stay in control while they work on proper positioning and stroke technique.

"The idea is to get kids to a secure place, with values like sharing and cooperation," said Ing. "We start with movement, and it's important to understand that everyone learns at their own pace." He offers free assessments to determine the level of each child, so they can be grouped with compatible players.

Tennis is a livelihood for Ing, so members (or non-members) can sign up for lessons at an additional cost. There are also clinics for adults, including Cardio Tennis, Beginners, Doubles Strategy and high-paced drills. Ing can be reached at 519-217-8772.

"I just love coaching," he said. "That's really the drive for me – it's exciting to work with people and develop them."

In addition to the free lessons, the Junior Spring After-School Clinics offer eight sessions, at a cost of $80 for members. There is also a Competitive Player Development Program, which includes intensive drills and video analysis.

The Summer Tennis Camps are back, with six one-week sessions, 1-4 pm. The cost is $115 per child, per week. It includes physical exercise, skills training and match play.

With support from the Optimist and Rotary Clubs, the Tennis Club offers up to 3 slots per week for kids that need financial help to attend. Application for these slots can be made through East Wellington Community Services.

The Erin Tennis Club is a self-financing committee of the Town of Erin, which owns the courts. Guests are welcome to play when accompanied by member. The guest fee is $5.