The Montessori School of Pensacola — with help from the U.S. Tennis Association and USTA FL— is looking to expand recreational opportunities for area children and the disabled.
The school has had a robust and respected youth tennis program. Now, administrators are hoping to build on that success with the grand opening, this Friday, of two new tennis courts on their Pensacola campus.
The courts — made possible by $17,000 in grants from the USTA and USTA FL — are designed specifically for children aged 10 and younger. Originally developed to encourage tennis play among children, the 10 and under category of tennis uses specialized equipment, shorter court dimensions and modified scoring rules.
“We want children to have a positive image of tennis,” USTA program coordinator George English said. “Raising competitive players is not the goal in developing the skills in young children. We simply want them to continue to love tennis because it is a lifelong sport.”
English said the courts, besides benefitting students, will be an asset to the entire region.
“The closest 10 and under courts until now were in Jacksonville,” he said, “So this is something to be very proud of. We hope one day to find these courts in abundance — just like little league baseball fields.”
Tennis is a major component of physical education at Montessori, which also offers after school and summer tennis instruction. All programs — including advanced clinics, private lessons, weekly match play, and league play — are open to the public.
Tricia Kruse, supervisor of after school activities for the school, said she hoped the new courts would take Montessori’s programs to the next level.
“These courts make sense for young children,” she said, “whose perception and motor skills are different from adults’. They are like bumpers on a bowling lane or a lowered basketball hoop.”
Besides being more kid-friendly, though, the category is also more accessible to the disabled and seniors.
Kruse said the school intends to expand opportunities for these groups, as well — offering a masters’ tennis program in the fall for residents of the nearby Summer Vista Assisted Living Facility, as well as a Special Olympics tennis program.