Sometimes I’m amazed by how N just gets on with things. I always think of him as being quite risk averse, a watcher before he takes something on. And quiet until he gets to know someone. Maybe not shy (definitely not as shy as I was as child), but certainly not one to shout about his abilities. He’s either very good at hiding how nervous he is of things, or he just doesn’t get nervous. The latest event was a mini red tennis match play tournament at a nearby tennis club.
N plays his tennis lessons in Oxfordshire, but his club is in Warwickshire, so that’s the team league they play in. His coach had sent round a flyer for a match play afternoon at another club. With all the different age groups playing, it was a chance to play singles matches as an individual, meet tennis players from our own county and other clubs, as well as getting in some match play.
When I mentioned it, I didn’t think N would want to take part, given it was just him and not the team. But he said yes, so we headed off there wondering what it would be like. In the league matches, it’s been a real mix. From children who’re very match experienced and really good players, to children who struggle to stay focused or can hardly connect with a serve.
The club was one I used to play squash matches at for the league I played in. It was a further blast from the past as the organiser/coach at the club is the one who used to do holiday tennis sessions in our village, and was my tennis and squash coach at 6th form. She also used to live up our road, so it was nice to say hi. We’re talking 23-24 years ago that coaching! How to make someone feel old.
There are quite a few tennis courts there – which meant they were running mini red, orange, green and junior matches. It was nice for N to see what the older children are doing for their matches. The red courts seemed so much smaller, but from September next year he’ll have to move up to orange and will be playing with a proper net, on a slightly smaller court. We did chat to one girl from the his club playing in an older group, so that was nice to see one person we knew.
Mini red players
There were 5 playing in N’s age group. N was quite happy to go off on court and get on with things. My scoring was more challenging. Thankfully the more I’ve scored, the less daunting it gets although it’s confusing that all the courts are different. These ones were proper mini red size which seem really small compared with the badminton courts N usually plays on. Plus in their league they don’t use a service line so the serve can bounce anywhere in the cross court box. Here, I only knew after the first match I scored that, it should have been bouncing ahead of the back tramline. Confusing.
What was refreshing was to have children who weren’t aggressive about the scoring. Only one questioned something, legitimately. It was strange having the courts right up against each other which meant a few side net issues and replaying points.
It was a lovely event to play in. It was well organised, ran on good time, included refreshments for adults and children (embarrassingly N ate a lot of biscuits each time he came off court!). The other parents I spoke to (and the kids) were all friendly, inclusive and happy to be there. There was a real mix of clubs the children came from too rather than just that home club.
Surprisingly, N won all 4 of his matches. He was so chuffed each time he came off the court to tell me. I got to watch a couple of his matches, and scored 1 of his and a couple of the others. I think he really enjoys the matches he plays. He seems to have quite an easy temperament for them. N might not be really competitive, but he’s relaxed about it being a match. Maybe because it’s all still fun without any pressure. But it’s certainly working for him outside of tennis lessons.
Only one of his matches was close at 10-8, the others were all under 3 points scored by his opponent. N’s still got a lot to work on – his serve in particular. He got away with it this week because he was the only one attempting overarm serves, so he just stuck with underarm. But it’s nice to give him a confidence boost and encourage him to play more matches. Plus of course all match play is good practice.
They were awarded points depending on their wins and scores. So N won the day’s match play for his age group. They all got prizes for their efforts, and N was pleased to be able to choose his prize first. And chocolate….it amuses me that all these sports events hand out chocolate or sweets.
Along with the win, playing in these match play or little tournaments, and the league means any wins go against N’s British tennis rating. Yes, even under 8s have a tennis rating and membership number to play in these tournaments..
The organiser praised him a lot for winning and surprised me by saying that the county people keep an eye on the children’s wins and ratings. It’s how they watch out for talent and choose county players. Having been put forward for county training in squash and for a county schools tournament as an area winner when I was a child, I’m not holding my breath for N – in the past Oxfordshire was always way being for having a team or structure. Although maybe this is much better nowadays given the focus and mini tennis structure there now is through the LTA.
When I looked doubtful she pointed out 2 of the girls N had beaten, had been picked up by the county previously. It’s interesting playing across counties though, as there’s such a variation in playing ability and N certainly isn’t anywhere near the skill level of some of the kids playing in his usual league.
We left on a high. N is keen to play in more of these tournaments, although we can’t make the December one, and they probably won’t run more until the weather improves again after the winter. Maybe once we know what’s happening with the Spring team league, we can look out for other nearby similar tournaments that he might want to try out.
For me, it’s so lovely to see him enjoying his tennis and wanting to take part. Especially when I remember back to tennis sessions where he’d randomly refuse to join in and want to leave.
He’s learning about sportsmanship and making sure he shakes hands after a match. I heard him confidently calling the ball out, so he’s learning the rules. He’s talking to other children with a similar enjoyment of an activity and speaking confidently and politely to other parents who are scoring. Add to that he’s got another 4 wins under his belt.
Now I have to persuade him that he can stand up in school assembly to share his achievement. It would be a first for him to do so on his own – he’s only stood up before when he realised his team mates were standing up to talk.
How are your children getting on with their sports? What do they take part in?
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