Ever since first playing tennis at school last year N has enjoyed the game. They have an external coach from a local club come in and do junior lessons for them, and after playing in the summer term, N was given a referral letter to play at the club.
Tennis was my sport at school (before squash took over at uni and afterwards), so I’m pleased that he enjoys it so much. For a 5 year old, and thinking about his cousins and other children I’ve seen with rackets, he’s not bad. He’s a child that’s good at connecting racket and ball, or bat, or club. Anything that involves a ball he seems to pick it up quite well.
I checked before booking him on the tennis club course to make sure he wanted to do it. Initially he wasn’t sure until I explained that the coaches from school worked at that club too so it might be that they would be the coaches….or not because one of them has moved up north.
In the run up to the first session in September, N was quite excited. Not knowing if the usual Monday school club would continue through the winter meant the club sessions might have been his only chance to play until Summer. He kept telling his dad that he wouldn’t be on the farm because he’d be playing tennis so I thought it would all go well.
But it was a different story on arrival.
N can be quite shy. He’s definitely an observer first of all, checking out who else is there and where’s there space and what others are doing. But generally he will join in. When we arrived we were the first ones, along with another more confident boy. The coach (a new one to him) was really friendly and chatty, and introduced himself to N, telling him about what they’d be doing. All was ok.
Until all the other children arrived. I’m only talking about 12 kids maximum. Half of them are children from his school, either in reception, year 1 or 2. He knew all of those and knows them fairly well because they all go to after school club at some point together. But he wouldn’t let go of me when all the others went down to the court. I got dragged along too. They all went off to play a warm up game of tag. N refused.
I talked to him. Tried to find out what was wrong. Why he was scared. Did he not want to be there. How he was wasting time and would look silly for not joining in and holding on to me. Nothing helped for 20 minutes of the 45 minute session.
Eventually, thankfully, at the end of the warm up the coach came over and talked to him.
‘N mate, I’ve got a problem. I need some help’ and like that he was a changed boy, happily going off to ‘help’ out and join in. I could leave the court and stand and chat with the other parents, watching the children all enjoying themselves.
By the end of the session when he came out of the court, N was buzzing and happy having enjoyed it and wanting to go back the week after. ‘We’re doing jailbreak game next week’. Hmmm. Fingers crossed the second week he would take part in the whole session.
We had a quick play on the playground which is much improved with new wooden equipment since we last visited before heading home for tea.
Week 2 arrived, and it was like the first session could never have happened.
N was straight into the court, talking to both of the coaches, taking the mickey out of the female coach who teaches them at school. And joining in every activity with gusto. He was telling others to do, or not do certain things. He was like the teacher’s pet, even having some ‘good work N’ comments.
I thought he’d be a bit miffed at not being in the same group as his friend I, but they split the children into year groups, so the Year 2s went in one group while the reception and Y1 ages stayed in a group. It’s amazing to watch such young children hitting tennis balls, some of whom were quite powerful and accurate. Let’s just hope that with N playing twice a week he doesn’t get too sick of tennis.
I’m so glad he got over the wobbles in the first session. And I’m really pleased that he’s settled in well and is enjoying playing with new people. Hopefully if he continues enjoying it, and playing, I’ll join the club in April, and we’ll be able to play there together. I’m so rusty though, it’s very embarrassing so I think I’ll need some mega rusty rackets tennis lessons to get me vaguely back to playing again.
Do your children play tennis? What sports do they get to try at school? How did they get on when starting in new clubs?