Rethinking childrens tennis strategy - Bubbablue and me

Rethinking tennis strategy – is he good enough?

It’s been a long break from playing tennis matches, although N has been lucky to play quite a bit over the summer at the tennis club. Our club have never done anything for the juniors in the past. We have a strange situation; we no longer train at the club but at a local school, but we still represent the club if playing in team competitions. This summer the club wanted to encourage more children and families to join the club, so started a Sunday morning junior hour where anyone could go and play.

It was very informal – run by club members who were there to ask questions or set up some play. The younger children who don’t train just played on the mini court usually with parents. The older children who can hit the ball more consistently had hitting with club members. Once the set ‘open for all’ sessions had finished, they’ve continued to hold the session for junior club members. Several families joined the club but so far not many have come along on Sundays. The last few times N was the only older child there so had an hour of hitting practice with one of the club players. It’s really noticeable how well his rallies have come on compared with pre-holidays.

I’m hoping more people will attend, otherwise we’re in danger of losing the club support. Next year maybe I’ll join the club to be able to play with N.

Rethinking childrens tennis strategy - Bubbablue and me

Tennis coaching

Tennis training as started again with the mini orange group. There’s now 5 of them, rather than the 7 who signed up. This works well, as the coach can rotate in the group with them. They usually have an assistant coach so they can hit in pairs with just a bit of intervention and advice until it’s their turn with the coach.

Last week only the 3 boys turned up, so they played 3 ball challenge. It was new to them, but the coach rallies with each child and they have 3 lives (or balls). Miss the court or ball, and you lose a life but the rally count starts from where you left off. The aim is to reach 100. None of the boys believed they could get there. N started on 32 high score, got overtaken by another boy at 51. Then N’s last go, he reached 91, almost all with just 1 ball. He was top scorer by 40! His consistency is more noticeable with the hitting he’s done over the summer, compared with the others who aren’t hitting as freely, but purely to get the ball in play.

Private lessons are back on too, although I don’t hear what goes on in those much as they’re during school time. N needs to work more on his backhands, but his serving is what currently lets him down. A lot of practice at serving is needed for matchplay.


Our team is no more. Last year, they did really well, but the players aren’t all old enough to move up to orange. Previously, our county used to have the orange boys team league as 2 players. But they’ve changed this year to be 4 mixed players in a team. With only 5 coaching, and 2 of those not wanting to play in matches, we can’t get a team out. Fingers crossed we might have one by the summer, but it’s meant we’re had to change our tennis strategy to get N to play more matches. I’ve had to look at individual tournaments for N instead.

He’ll still do the matchplay tournaments at the club in the nearby village as they’re really friendly, and there’s a good mix of players there. The last matchplay only 2 players in their age came as several have now moved up to green, and others didn’t turn up. Hopefully more orange level players will come to future matchplays as they get to do doubles as well as singles.

I was able to speak to another of the mums at the matchplay – her son is a few months older than N, but was playing up in orange for most of last year. He’s entered a lot of tournaments in the past, so had a lot of advice.

Change in tennis strategy

Tennis has a tournament grading system which is a bit confusing.

7 for local club tournaments
6 for matchplay and local tournaments
5 for division 2 onwards team competitions and local tournaments
4 for county and division 1 team competitions
3 for county competitions

I don’t want N to launch into grade 5 and get thrashed by kids who’ve been playing in orange level a while in lots of tournaments. So we’re looking at matchplays and grade 6 tournaments for a bit to see how he goes, and then move to some grade 5 by the end of the year. So far, he’s entered for 2 tournaments, one in Northampton and one in Oxford.

We need to get him playing more in Oxfordshire because so far all his tournaments that show on his player profile have been Warwickshire. There was a comment from one of his coaches asking why he wasn’t picked up for county training, and then one of the other parents asking why he wasn’t doing county squad training like her daughter when he can beat her and is more consistent. I’m wondering if it’s because he’s not appearing in Oxford searches for results. Compared to other boys he’s playing in the age group, he’s not their standard, but if they’re comparing to girls, then he’s definitely better than a couple he’s played that we know do county stuff.

I’ve only just realised that county closed tournaments are for all children, not just those picked for training. So it’s a little frustrating that he could have had a go at that last year when he was in the younger age division. Oh well, he’s got til August to get in the practice at this level.

Playing more tournaments will help improve his game anyway, especially playing different people. And without team matches, he’ll not get to play much unless he does other tournaments. So we might be spending weekends driving to different places a bit more over the next few months.

I have entered him for a couple after long discussions, but now he’s booked in, he’s saying he doesn’t want to play where he doesn’t know anyone. But they’re booked so he’s got no choice now. I’m sure he’ll be fine – he just needs to remember that he went to the local matchplays not knowing anyone and he got on fine and enjoys them. I just hope he gets some good matches against a variety of players until he gets some confidence playing in mini orange level tournaments.

It’s all new, and he’s going to have to forget about entering with his team mates, as they don’t have parents who are on the look out for the opportunities to play.

Are your children in a similar situation – having to move up age groups, or changing the way they’re doing matches?

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