This year N hasn’t played many tennis matches after one tournament that really put him off. The weather and clashes have also stopped him playing at one locally he does enjoy. But it is a gap that we need to get back to at some point. But the highlight is that despite this lack of recent proof of playing, he’s been chosen to attend the county tennis training sessions for the summer season.

This weekend he had the first session. Timing wasn’t great as he was still getting over his tonsillitis, but he seemed to cope ok with the 3 ½ hours of training. We’d thought that they would stop for lunch, but only the younger ones have a proper lunch break.  Orange level and up just stop for quick water breaks and a brief snack break.

The monthly sessions are intensive and built around a theme.  N’s time slot covers 3 age groups, so they warmed up together first for quite a long time. Did a quick chat in their groups, then got started on drills.  The theme this time was consistency. Ensuring net clearance, speed of contact on groundstrokes and volleys, including approach shots. 

county tennis training

The indoor tennis centre they use is great – just wish we had one in the north of the county near us. They used 6 courts, with different drills set up across 3 stations, one for each age group, with several coaches split across the stations.

N’s group had 7-8 children in.  They really worked the children hard – not only the actual tennis technique and drills, but making sure they were kept running all the time. Drills differed across 2 courts, with them doing 1 drill, going to pick up balls, then running round to the second court to do the second drill, then balls and run back to the first.  

I was relieved that N seemed to be doing ok on the keeping up.  He and another girl were the weaker of the group, but he did ok.  There were plenty of tips, and given he’d not picked up a racket in the past week and missed 2 training sessions, he was always going to take some time to get back into it.  He said he didn’t feel intimidated by some of the children who were really great players, but these sessions will really help his tennis.

He’s definitely benefited due to the incoming change to age groups which is happening in April. There’s a couple of boys he knows with early school year birthdays, who have had to move up to mini green earlier than they usually would because the ages are changing to calendar year. Whereas N gets an extra 3-4 months in Orange, from when he would previously have to change in September this year.  It means it’s freed up spaces on the county training for more children who wouldn’t be as high a level as those children.

It was so interesting for me to watch the training. To see the difference in levels between the 8 to 11 year olds there. The variety of drills, the rapport between children and the coaches who’ve been through the training at younger levels. And how much topspin some of these children put on the ball, while with N, it’s all still theory rather than being in his skills.

I’m really pleased he wasn’t daunted. He’s grabbing the opportunity with both hands and said he enjoyed it, although was peeved he didn’t get through more than 2 sandwiches and a kiwi fruit in the break. Probably a good thing as I’m not sure he’d have wanted to be running around on more food than that. He did come out saying his throat was sore again, but that’s unsurprising as it probably got a bit dry.  Hopefully by the time the next session comes around a few weeks after Easter, he’ll have had more lessons in the meantime and be fit and healthy.

The downside was the agony his legs were in for most of the following week.  I assumed given how active he is, and how he can do tennis camp all day with no problems during school holidays, that he’d be fine with the training. But it really shows how hard they worked, non-stop apart from short breaks for water and snacktime.  Even swimming 2 days after didn’t ease the aches, and by Thursday after his normal tennis lesson he was still moaning. Hopefully future sessions his body will be more used to it – and if not, he needs to start getting out on his bike again to work the leg muscles a bit.

I’m hoping that being amongst these other children who love tennis as much as he does, will give him the urge to play some tournaments again. I think many will suffer with the coronavirus outbreak as not many people will want to play, especially if indoors, but once the outbreak of that is over, we’ll look out some tournaments to start him off in again.

Post edit: Unfortunately, like with all other sports, the LTA have had to cancel all tournaments, training and the rest due to Covid19. It looks like that’s the summer done and dusted, so that might be N’s chance gone to do this training. Fingers crossed once the virus goes, they can get back to tennis without losing too much of the training already completed.

Do your children have similar intensive coaching programmes they do? How did they find being chosen for similar level or higher squads? 

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