PICTOU — It was a busy time on Saturday during the inaugural Tennis Day in Canada, hosted by the Pictou-based Highland Tennis Association.
Association president Harvey Bate said tennis is a sport on the rise, and part of Tennis Day is to help bring some young people back to the courts.
“We can start kids at a very young age nowadays with progressive tennis,” Bate said.
Young students may only play on a quarter of the court, half, three quarters, or the full court when they’re ready.
“At six or eight years old, they start with a racquet and foam balls,” he said. “Halfway through the summer, they can actually play tennis and play each other.”
Bate said another avenue for would-be tennis players is pickleball, which is similar to tennis or badminton but uses a wooden paddle and a ball full of holes.
“I think the pickleball’s going to catch on,” he said. “There’s a crew out in Scotsburn that already have a club and a bunch of people from Pictou go there.”
The HTA was hopeful that Tennis Day might drum up a few early registrations for their summer lesson program. The event offered free court use, a taste of instruction and a glimpse of specialized equipment — from kid-sized nets to tennis friendly wheelchairs.
A practice court will be installed based on member feedback, while the group will also improve its club house.
“All they need is a pair of sneakers when they come here,” Bate said. “We have racquets of every quality for every size kid, and all the balls — as many balls as we need. We even have a ball machine. If people come up and there’s only one of them, they can use the ball machine and hit the balls back from that.”
Most kids eventually get their own racquet, Bate said. They can range in price from $30 to $120 for a more expensive one.
Tennis isn’t just for children. Bate said his club has members as young as six to folks in their 80s. With the expanded lesson season, he hopes to see more adult involvement. The lesson program will also benefit from having two instructors this year.
Lessons are geared towards beginner to intermediate players.
Bate said tennis is an inexpensive sport. Individual membership is $30 and family membership costs $50.
“That gives you free lessons and free court use for the summer,” he said. “There’s adult lessons all summer long.”
Sofie Young, 5, of Pictou gets in touch with her tennis skills during Tennis Day in Canada that was hosted on Saturday by the Highland Tennis Association. (Cameron photo)