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A teaching momentThe annual Quick Start tennis program was held for Fluvanna County youth from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 at the newly renovated Ashlawn tennis courts at Lake Monticello. This program is for beginning and intermediate young tennis players in the 8–12 age group. Instructor Lynn Forsyth said that there were 12 children enrolled this year.

The Quick Start program is nationally recognized as a way to get young players interested and involved in tennis without making the game too difficult or too intimidating at the outset. The program has a graduated court method that starts novice players off on a smaller court with larger balls and shorter rackets. This encourages the development of the kind of hand–eye coordination that is so vital to success in a sport such as tennis.

After players have mastered the first stage of the program they move up to work with balls that are closer to regulation tennis balls but are still a little bigger and have lower compression than standard balls. In the next step up, players move to a regulation size court and use a ball that closely approximates a regulation ball, but is still a little less lively. At the final stage of the program, players move to the regular ball on the regular size court.

The program also emphasizes equipment that is the right size and weight for participating players. Accordingly, participants in the lower age groups may stick with smaller rackets, as their hands and arms may not be ready for regulation equipment.

This year, the Quick Start program was conducted on the newly renovated tennis courts at Lake Monticello’s main clubhouse just inside the main gate. Lake Monticello also recently renovated its two courts at Lafayette Park. In addition, the Fluvanna County High School now boasts a number of quality tennis courts.

Instructors at this year’s Quick Start program included Forsyth, Laura Chow, Betsy Gunnels, Ed Ferris, Cole Hanner, Bobby Thillet and Don Porter, so instruction was pretty close to a two–on–one experience for the participants.

Forsyth said that he has no knowledge of whether graduates of the Quick Start program have moved on to play at the high school level, but the idea of the program is to get participants interested in the sport soon enough that they can develop the skills needed to play tennis competitively. Forsyth noted, however, that this program is just a one–week introduction to tennis and conceded that developing competitive high school tennis athletes usually requires a family commitment to the sport. Students who play with, and ultimately against, their parents who know tennis are normally the successful players at a competitive level.

Use of the courts within Lake Monticello is generally restricted to Lake Monticello Owners’ Association members. Non–members would have to be invited in by a member. The use of the Lafayette courts is free of charge, but a tennis membership or a daily fee payment is required to play on the Ashlawn courts. This year an individual membership for the year cost $67. The fee for daily play by those without a membership is $5 per day. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings there is regularly scheduled men’s or women’s competition.

Scrimmage Play: Fluvanna County Headlines