Under-10 programs are thriving at Winnipeg’s indoor tennis facilities.

In the fall session at Winnipeg Winter Club, a total of 30 kids took part in U10 programs. Presently, 24 players in that age group are enrolled in programming for the winter session.

“I just want to reach as many kids as I can and hopefully we impress upon them that it’s a fun sport, they have a good time and they want to come back,” said WWC Head Tennis Pro Peter Otto.

WWC dedicates three hours of lesson time a week to U10 programs.

“For the younger ones there are a lot of fitness components, a lot of hand-eye coordination drills we do, along with the technique,” Otto said.

WWC’s U10 programs, which have operated for about six years, use the Progressive tennis model: the kids move through a series of low-compression balls until they’re ready to play full-court with a regular tennis ball.

“We’re following Tennis Canada guidelines,” said Otto. “If their skills are needed then we use the red ball and move up from orange to green-dot, and once we’re done that we move them to full-court green and full-court yellow and eventually to the Academy (WWC’s elite junior tennis group).”

Taylor Tennis Club is home to the Under-10 Provincial Development Team. Using the Progressive model, the program is split into three sections: three-quarter-court orange ball, half-court red ball and beginner red ball.

A tryout was held at Norwood Community Centre last September to assess the U10 kids and slot them into the appropriate groupings. The program, now in its second year, had 28 players taking part in the fall session. About 20 players are currently participating in the winter session.

“I would say since last year it’s a 20 to 25 percent increase in enrollment,” said Tennis Manitoba’s Director of Tennis Development Jared Connell, who coaches the program at Taylor Tennis Club with Robert Kennedy and Nelly Dvornicka.