Above photo: Rogers Rookie Tour coordinator Robert Kennedy with participants at Winnipeg Winter Club in May.
About 15 Rogers Rookie Tour tournaments have been played in Manitoba in 2018, with events still to come at Winnipeg Winter Club in October, November and December.
The tournaments introduce kids to tennis competition in a fun environment.
“If you play organized hockey you train to get ready for a game and not just to train,” said Tennis Manitoba’s Rogers Rookie Tour coordinator Robert Kennedy. “In tennis it should be the same in that you want to play matches.”
Between eight and 34 kids have taken part in each Rogers Rookie tournament this year in Manitoba, with the highest participation coming at Victoria Beach Tennis Club. The age range has been 4-17 years old, with most of the kids being 8-12 years of age.
“It’s kind of difficult for some of the four year olds to rally, but if they can rally two times over the net they’ll be able to have success,” said Kennedy.
The tournaments offer 1/2 court, 3/4 court and full court events using low compression balls.
“Sometimes with the full court we would play green dot (ball) also,” Kennedy said.
A Rogers Rookie tournament lasts about three hours, with each event (for the different court sizes) taking about an hour and a half.
“It’s not a big amount of time they invest into it,” said Kennedy. “They can do it and enjoy it.”
Participants play either timed matches or mini sets with regular scoring.
“You play with someone for 15 minutes and then move on and play someone else,” Kennedy said. “Instead of coming off the court worrying about if you won or lost, they concentrate on, ‘who do I play next?'”
Entry fee for each tournament is $20 and participants receive a prize package. This year each player got a t-shirt, sunglasses and gym bag.
“Most of the kids will come to two (tournaments in a year),” said Kennedy. “Some came to four of the tournaments. It’s really fun so if they have the opportunity to come to a second one they do.”
With the round-robin formats, kids in the Rogers Rookie tournaments get a lot of matches in against different opponents.
“Some of the kids might play seven matches in one day – win some, lose some, and they’ll feel good about it,” said Kennedy.