March 7, 2013 by Parveer Mann
It must seem strange that a sport with origins in the last millennia just recently celebrated its first World Tennis day. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) in collaboration with StarGames appointed March 4, 2013 as the inaugural World Tennis day. The primary activities centered on exhibition matches occurring at Madison Square Garden in New York City that night. Beyond the chance to see some famous players and celebrities, the ITF’s greater goal was to encourage further tennis participation and the growth of the sport worldwide. To this end, one of the most encouraging programs has been the advancement of youth tennis.
Making the game easier for kids
The ITF has developed the Tennis10s program using smaller courts, slower balls and size-appropriate racquets for children 10 and under. This format works to adapt with the player as they grow until they are playing with the rules and equipment we are used to seeing. As a developmental tool, it has helped kids and coaches alike enjoy the game by learning to have fun and play better quicker. The ultimate legacy of these programs may be difficult to ascertain but if they are encouraging more kids playing, it should be called successful. Many individual countries have adopted national youth programs, I will provide some links if you would like to discover more:
Canada- Progressive Tennis
Australia- MLC Tennis Hot Shots
Snapshot of the Indian Wells draws:
Men’s– The hot button issue was to find out where world number five, Rafael Nadal would end up and whose quarter he could potentially spoil. The answer to those two questions was his long-time rival, Roger Federer. I’m already excited for a possible quarter’s showdown between these two greats.
However, I still feel the favourite coming in is Novak Djokovic who is undefeated this year and almost a mortal lock so far on this surface. There are the normal contenders (Murray, Federer and Nadal) but I like Tomas Berdych’s recent form and he may surprise especially on the weaker side of the bracket.
Women’s– With no Serena Williams, the prohibitive favourite is Aussie Open champ, Victoria Azarenka. Her half of the draw is incredibly manageable as it features the struggling trio of Wozniacki, Stosur and Angelique Kerber. Her main rival would seem to be world number three Maria Sharapova but I’m anxious to see the young Americans (Stephens, Keys, Mchale) back at home looking to showcase their talents.