This month, all the hard work N put into his tennis (and my money for lessons!) paid off. He might not be the best player of all the people he plays, but he’s dedicated and hard-working, and he’s been invited to take part in the county tennis training sessions this summer.
Last year there was a younger girl from his previous lessons, and older girl and boy from the same club invited to take part. He’s also met a few children who’re his age group who’ve been invited in the past and currently. The girls he’s beaten consistently, the boys he knows are a lot stronger players (not surprising as they’ve been getting the additional play and coaching as well as playing in matches a year longer than him).
The coach at the local friendly tournaments he plays in said he really should have been included, as has one of the parents of the boys who’s been in the county squad. But I was never sure because we only know a selection of children to compare standards.
But this time he’s had an invite letter through. I’m so chuffed for him. He’s not playing regular matches because we don’t have a team at the moment so it means they can’t check his current ability. It turned out N’s main coach had put a few of his players forward a while ago for the different age groups. And luckily they decided N could join the training.
One of his classmates has been chosen again for the younger age group, and I’m sure a couple of the boys he knows from other clubs will be there as well. Online it says they usually choose 8 children for the training at U9 level (I presume this is girls and boys) but I don’t know if that’s still the case. For mini reds, they choose a lot more children.
N is really pleased to have been chosen. It means 5 training sessions, one a month for the summer season, at a tennis centre about an hour from us. Sundays once a month are going to need an early start, and I’m not sure what I’ll do for the 3 hours he’s training. Hopefully he’ll enjoy it, find it helpful. And not be too overwhelmed if the other children seem way ahead of him in his age group.
He’s quite lucky because some of the other children are older in the school year, and the age groups are changing in April. Instead of them being based on a child’s age in each of the 2 seasons, it’s based on calendar year. So some of his group will need to move up to green level, while N will get a few more extra months of being able to play in orange (unless the coach states he’s ready to move up).
There are also 2 all day booster sessions in August. I’m not sure whether this is for all selected or just for those then picked to represent the county for matches, but I’m sure we’ll find out nearer the time.
It’s starting to mean more commitment – if he’s needed there in the summer holidays, then that puts pressure on my work/holiday options, but luckily he currently has all of the dates free in the calendar. The OH won’t help out, so it’s down to me which I don’t mind as I find the process and training so interesting to watch compared to the limited coaching we used to have as children. We didn’t even play all year round. Tennis was largely a school thing, and tennis camps were only in summer holidays.
Hopefully between now and the start of county training, he’ll have the chance to play in another matchplay, to give a bit more match experience. Although given the weather I don’t think that’s going to happen.
N acts quite confidently ahead of new things, but I know he’ll be nervous underneath. It’ll be a case of reassuring him that it’s all about the experience and extra training he’ll get. It’s not about who’s the best or worst of the group, everyone will be using the sessions to improve and learn from different coaches to normal. As well as encouraging him to make new friends.
Hopefully he’ll find the sessions enjoyable and useful. Get more confidence and have them reinforce the basics, but provide more opportunity to hit against children who are better than him. With them only being once a month, hopefully it won’t get too much and be too much intense tennis.
After all, I still want him to enjoy tennis and want to keep playing.
Those with children picked for country tennis training squads or other county sports, how have they found it?