Learn how to lob! Better that backhand!
Following the March 2019 inauguration of Graded's long-awaited three rooftop tennis courts, the Graded Tennis Academy was established. The club promotes the sport as an easy, enjoyable, healthy, and rewarding activity.
Former Graded parent and Graded Tennis Academy Head Coach Eduardo Eche says playing tennis teaches sportsmanship, discipline, and problem-solving. Moreover, according to Eduardo, it is a sport that everyone can enjoy. This is exactly why the Academy at Graded is geared towards beginners who are keen to learn the sport and experienced players who want to practice and hone their skills. With a 'no cuts' policy, "every player will be able to serve, rally, and score after a few lessons – all while learning good technique and having fun," he explains.
Each week, 200 students in K5 through grade 12 gather enthusiastically on the tennis courts, dressed in sports gear and holding tennis rackets, ready to train under the guidance of supportive coaches Arthur, Petreca, and Kelly.
In a playful and friendly environment, beginners learn to play the sport via games and fun activities that motivate children, promote learning, and develop skills. The coaches' objective is to ensure that the young athletes have a positive and memorable first tennis experience.
Livia L., a grade 6 student, played tennis for the first time at Graded. She appreciates that the coaches are "well-trained and friendly to every student, and that they encourage you to do better." The tennis practices have become an excellent place for her to socialize and make new friends.
The same goes for Isabella A., a grade 10 student who enjoys catching up with friends she doesn't have the opportunity to see in class. She explains that the "coaches are super welcoming and kind, creating a comfortable environment for everyone. At the same time, they help us with our form and strokes. I feel like I've created friendships with them."
The club's intermediate players work with coaches to develop their tennis fundamentals technically, tactically, and physically. During weekly or bi-weekly practices, they learn about patterns, court zones, accurate foot movement, emotional control, and decision-making while gaining a greater understanding of the game, its rules, and official scores.
Brothers Alexander (grade 8) and Timothy J. (grade 10) were already tennis players when they joined Graded's Tennis Academy two years ago. Alex says, "my favorite part [about the Academy] is to be able to play tennis in such a nice atmosphere, and the practices have helped me develop my forehand and serve.”
At Graded, tennis practices are meticulously planned with psychological and social goals in mind. Coaches strive to inspire beginners with the idea that once a child takes an interest in the sport, their abilities will develop naturally with greater quality and intensity of play. The objective of the intermediate group is to encourage competition while respecting the opponent and recognizing victories and defeats. When an athlete progresses to the advanced level, coaches continue to focus on competitive elements, concentration, and effort.
Students and coaches alike are looking forward to participating in tennis practices and competing in internal and external tournaments now that on-campus activities and athletics have resumed. As a bonus this semester, tennis enthusiasts will also be able to play beach tennis, the fastest-growing beach sport in the world.
Game, set, match!