FUN LEARNING: Tennis coach Mitch Garen gives some advice to tennis players Sharni Higgins and Shontai Meloury at the Aspire Tennis Centre.
FUN LEARNING: Tennis coach Mitch Garen gives some advice to tennis players Sharni Higgins and Shontai Meloury at the Aspire Tennis Centre. Rob Williams

Aspire serves up fun new format

A NEW approach to the traditional form of tennis has proven a roaring success in Springfield.

Launched with the help of former world number one Lleyton Hewitt in January last year, Tennis Australia's Fast4 Tennis is an speedy alternative to the regular format of play.

With more than 300 juniors already on court, Aspire Tennis Centre owner Mitch Garen said the shorter style was an exciting introduction for new players.

"We play a first to four, best of three sets format which teaches the kids like a mini match,” Garen said.

"If they do lose the first set we encourage them to keep fighting.

"Once they have come back from a set down to win it's a massive high for them and they love it. We find that part of the format great, and there's a lot of pressure points with let play-ons and no advantage, which give the kids some experience playing under pressure.”

It isn't just the younger generation who are lining up to try the fun new format.

With a growing number of adults taking advantage of the club's two nights of Fast4 Tennis, Garen said parents were starting to catch the bug.

"We run a Wednesday and Friday night adult competition with the format which has been good,” he said. "The Wednesday night social comp has been growing and growing and the Friday night is a social one where people can drop in and play the three sets.

"Often it's the parents of kids who come along and decide to get into some social tennis. It's a good way for the community to meet each other and make some new friends.”

With six other coaches on board, the Aspire Tennis Centre crew have been visiting a dozen schools across Ipswich to get students into tennis. Thanks to new government funding, more and more schools have been taking up the initiative.

"It's been great with the Sporting Schools grant because every school wants to try tennis,” Garen said.

"Tennis isn't really in the mainstream like your rugby or soccer so we've been doing a lot of P.E. classes with different schools.

"Usually other comps do the summer and winter seasons but we found that people would go away over Christmas and come back and be rusty from not having a hit.

"The first few rounds would be terrible and if kids are finishing school or moving from primary to high school there would be a few drop-offs with that. Instead we do two seasons from March to June and August to November and it seems to work well.”

With five more rounds remaining until the current season enters their finals, Garen said he was already looking towards launching some new initiatives for 2017 including a cardio tennis program just in time for the Australian Open.

"Fitbit has come on board as the major sponsor and any new members get 25 percent off a Fitbit,” he said.

"It's a great workout especially for the time poor to knock off a few thousand calories.''



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