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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Tennis for Anyone and Everyone: Lifelong Fitness

AHA Partner in the Spotlight: Western Wake Tennis Association

Western Wake Tennis Association is a champion for tennis as a lifelong sport in five Western Wake County municipalities. Photo courtesy of WWTA.

From 2000 to 2010, participation in tennis across the United States grew by 46%, making it the fastest growing traditional sport in our country, according to data from the Physical Activity Council. Locally, the growth numbers are even more impressive. Adult tennis leagues grew 300% from 2003 to 2008, and youth leagues grew roughly 150% from 2007 to 2010. Youth baseball and soccer, on the other hand, declined over these years.

Here in Wake County, local tennis associations, like Western Wake Tennis Association (WWTA), are playing a key part in the growth of this year-round, lifelong sport for all ages.

Western Wake Tennis Association, an AHA partner that actively participates in AHA’s Western Wake Work Group, is making a significant impact for residents in Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. WWTA advocates active tennis through school PE, adult beginner classes, and senior tennis events. WWTA runs leagues and tournaments to provide friendly competition and encouragement for all to reap the benefits of tennis.

WWTA has donated 10 and under tennis equipment to 43 public and private elementary and middle schools in Western Wake County. Photo courtesy of WWTA.

Thanks to advocacy efforts led by WWTA, there is the potential for 44 new public courts in these five communities during the next five years, according to Laura Weygandt, WWTA Community Coordinator. Plus, WWTA has donated a signficant amount of 10 and under tennis equipment to schools.

“We’re advocating for tennis so communities in Western Wake can provide their residents with a lifelong healthy activity,” Weygandt said. In addition to helping to get grants for upgraded tennis facilities, WWTA also talks to parks and recreation departments and elected officials to let them know that tennis is an activity for a lot of people. “We help leaders in these communities understand that they need to provide tennis courts just like trails, baseballs fields and soccer fields so that they can help residents in their communities be active,” Weygandt continued.

Weygandt said that sometimes there is a perception that tennis is a “country club” sport, but 70% of tennis is played on public courts.

Getting Youth on the Courts

Photo courtesy of WWTA.

Since WWTA launched in 2003 with a mission to promote the growth and development of the sport of tennis, this non-profit organization has donated 10 and under tennis equipment to 43 public and private elementary and middle schools across Western Wake County. With the U.S. Tennis Association’s effort to engage more children in tennis, there are now smaller courts, lower nets, smaller racquets and lower compression balls to help children learn and master the game. 10 and under tennis is the U.S. Tennis Association’s  answer to t-ball and soccer’s mini-kickers!

Over a four-year period, WWTA donated this equipment through individual outreach to the schools and provided a curriculum guide and training for P.E. teachers as well.

With the equipment, schools can not only teach tennis during P.E. class, but schools can organize after-school tennis clubs (like many organize walking or running clubs). WWTA also will help schools organize the clubs, Weygandt said.

WWTA also works with youth-serving organizations like the YMCA of the Triangle. WWTA has donated equipment to the Cary and Kraft  YMCAs, hosted clinics for YMCA trackout staff on using 10 and under tennis equipment and partnered with the Y Guides program by offering  a patch for tennis drills and activities at the annual fall and spring outings at Camp Kanata.

WWTA, along with the Raleigh Tennis Association, has been a financial supporter of the AHA Brains and Bodies Award program, which recognizes and celebrates schools that are working to create a healthier environment for students and staff.  “WWTA supports schools and youth-serving organizations that are trying to help children be active, and that’s why being involved in with AHA and this awards program is so meaningful to us,” Weygandt said.

Promoting Tennis Across Wake County

WWTA, along with the Raleigh Tennis Association and Wake Forest Area Tennis Association, all run leagues for men women and youth in Wake County and facilitate play at all age levels—from 5 year-olds to 95-year-olds, Weygandt shared. The organizations also offer scholarships for tennis camps for children and organize various events promoting tennis, including the upcoming 10 and Under Tennis Festival on Sat., Nov. 17, at the NSCU Indoor Tennis Center. Children are invited for this tennis carnival with fun drills and games and a free lunch. Tennis, anyone?

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