Young Sylvania School students are learning a sports lesson first hand: In the game of tennis, no one sits out on the sidelines.
About an hour before the first class bell rings at Central Trail Elementary School on Tuesday morning, more than 75 children are jumping up and down, cheering, and doing cartwheels as part of a game of Simon Says. It is the way the morning Tennis Club prepares for an hour of practicing the racket sport.
The club began last year but since has grown into a morning club that teaches the early-start basics for the game.
“We scaled down the sport for kids of all ages,” Mark Faber said. Director of Laurel Hill Tennis Club in Toledo, he and Michele Henson, Highland Elementary School teacher, run the program. The morning club meets every Tuesday and Thursday at Central Trail, and Monday and Wednesday at Highland. That makes for more than 200 participants.
PHOTO GALLERY: Central Trail Elementary tennis
Assisted with parent volunteers and two professional tennis coaches, the children learn hand-eye coordination, quickness, and other processing skills, using smaller tennis rackets and a makeshift net made of tape held by two chairs.
“Everyone is moving. There are no lines. Contrary to other team sports, no one sits on the sidelines,” Brian Meyer, a volunteer, said.
He was challenging the students to catch their partners’ tennis racket before it touched the ground.
Each person holds the tip of the racket with their finger, and when he called go, they quickly switched positions, letting their finger off their rackets, circling around to grab the other’s racket before it fell to the ground.
Caleb McNeal, 11, was volleying a foam tennis ball with a friend before time was called, and he switched to another activity station set up in the gym.
“It’s cool. And I like to play tennis in the spring,” he said.
His father, Edward McNeal, Jr., said Caleb, a fifth grader, has been extremely interested in golf and tennis, so this was a good activity for him to join.
For third-grader Sydney Grill, 8, it was easy to wake up for morning tennis practice.
“I never tried tennis before, and I want to do new things,” she said, adding she also participates in soccer and gymnastics.
Mr. Faber said he plans to increase the club coverage, eventually having a morning club at all the elementary schools.
“We want to see the game grow.”
He said that the morning club is a perfect for parents and children.
“Everyone is so programmed and has so much going on. But the morning they already have to come to school,” he said.