The Little Aces Skills Day is one component of the very successful Mississauga Little Aces Community Development Initiative. Launched early this year, this is a pilot project aimed at trying to organize a complete U12 tennis development pathway involving schools, community clubs, recreation centres, and private facilities in a major urban market.
At the Little Aces Skills Day, children will have the chance to engage in thirteen fun activities designed to assess motor skills and other qualities related to the sport of tennis. The physical skills and attributes required for tennis are also evident in children who participate in other sports—but these kids may never have had the opportunity to try tennis. This unique development initiative will not only give these kids the chance to pick up a tennis racquet, but selected children will earn the opportunity to take part in a low cost (Tennis Canada subsidized), twelve week tennis and motor skills development program run at one of Canada’s top tennis facilities and overseen by some of our top coaches. Children who do well in the initial twelve week program will have the opportunity to continue with further stages of training.
The concept’s foundation comes from Tennis Canada’s desire to become a leading tennis nation. Canada is a successful sporting nation in so many ways. However, when it comes to tennis, due to a variety of factors it has been a challenge for us to attract the nation’s top athletes. One just needs to observe the quality of the athletes competing at this year’s US Open (Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniaki, Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal) to understand where the game is today and where it will be going in the future. The Little Aces Skills Day Initiative was designed to address this by attracting athletically inclined players regardless of their tennis pedigree.
According to Tennis Canada’s Director of High Performance and project leader, Debbie Kirkwood, “today there is a huge amount of competition for children’s attention from sports like hockey and soccer as well as other activities (like computer games). The goal of this program is to expand our reach and attract athletic kids from beyond the traditional tennis market in order to create a new pool of young talent and retain them in our sport.”
It is worth noting that Tennis Canada is not asking kids to play only tennis, rather as outlined in their Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, they would like to use this initiative to make it easier for kids at this stage of development to include tennis as one of their chosen sports.
This project represents the first time Tennis Canada has embarked on designing a nationwide program in such a systematic way. The project has been a year in the making and combines research garnered form some of the world’s leading tennis nations (France, Czech Republic, Germany). Two experts in the field were contracted by Tennis Canada to assist with its design (one international and one domestic). The project also builds on program that has been implemented in the province of Quebec for the past three years (Petits As). With pilot programs starting at ORC and another seven clubs in Quebec this fall, the intention is to expand the initiative nationwide next year.
ORC Tennis Director (and former ATP Tour Player and Tour Coach) Gary Muller, is very excited about the program, and what it could mean for the future of tennis in Canada: “This initiative reflects Tennis Canada’s desire to address (in a very positive way) some of the issues facing the sport in this country. The Little Aces Skills Day Initiative is a creative scheme that represents the first step in improving the caliber of young home-grown talent in the sport so that we can compete, on an international level, with countries whose culture prioritizes tennis as a sport. In the long term, this should enable our young Canadian players to feature more prominently on the international circuit.”
The Tennis Canada Skills Day Initiative will be held on September 25, 2010 between 10:00am and 4:00pm at Ontario Racquet Club (ORC), located at 884 Southdown Road, Mississauga. Space is limited to the first 150 children, so phone today on 905.822.5240 (ext 221) to register your child.
A Certificate of Participation and tennis specific goodies will be distributed to all Skills Day participants. All children selected to take part in the subsequent training program will also receive a free Wilson racquet and RED COURT ball to get them started in the sport of tennis.
For information on Tennis Canada’s Little Aces Skills Day initiative, please contact:
Director of High Performance
For information on the Little Aces Skills Day on September 25 hosted by ORC as well as junior and adult tennis programs at Ontario Racquet Club (ORC) please contact:
Ontario Racquet Club
25th September Little Aces Skills Day at ORC
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About Ontario Racquet Club (ORC): Established in 1975, ORC has grown to become one of Canada's leading family health, wellness and sports clubs. Located on the border of Oakville and Mississauga, and covering over 150,000 square feet and 8.5 acres, ORC is so mcuh more than a racquet club and offers something for everyone.