SHELTON and BROOKFIELD, CT. – Tennis fanatics, volunteers, professionals and parents have joined together to give more than 100 young players the opportunity to play tennis in a team setting.
Open registrations for Jr. Team Tennis held by the parks and recreation departments in Shelton and Brookfield led to an abundance of sign-ups.
Players were recruited in their schools via fliers that were sent home and by information found in parks and recreation brochures and local newspapers.
Most of the players were new to tennis, according to Meg Angeletti, USTA New England’s Community Relations Manager for Southern Connecticut.
"The majority of the kids are new to the game," Angeletti said, pointing out the exception – a Shelton-based team that features several players who are part of their high school teams. "We have some kids who had never held a racquet and some that have had a lesson or two at some point."
In Brookfield, teams were formed for both 12-and-under and 14-and-under competition, while Shelton’s interest created two 8-and-under teams, a 10-and-under team, a 12-and under team and intermediate teams for both 14- and 18-year-olds.
Once the teams formed, parents jumped at the chance to coach the teams and handle administrative duties.
Parents without a background in the sport were taught the basics by area pros and quickly learned the basics of coaching and administrative duties.
Local pros Angelo and Ettore Rossetti volunteered their time to coach.
"Angelo and Ettore have been great, and they give so much of their time to the game, especially working with newer players," Angeletti said.
Marikate Murren and Kelly Goodhart, who work at the USTA’s national office in nearby White Plains, N.Y., and Goodhart’s husband, Justin, have also stepped in as volunteer coaches.
The Goodharts’ first foray into the world of coaching youth tennis has been an enjoyable one.
"When we learned that Meg had done all this work to get kids registered and needed coaches, we were really excited to get involved," Kelly Goodhart said. "Coaching JTT has been a great experience and a wonderful way to help kids discover tennis - some for the first time. It’s been a joy to see them progress from week to week over the course of the season."
The Goodharts received further validation that their time is being invested wisely during a recent match.
"People think it’s only about win or lose, but in a match the other day one of the kids came to report his score and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘I didn’t win, but I played really well and had fun.’ It was great that he knew he played well and the rest didn’t matter," Justin Goodhart said.
Local pro and volunteer coach Doug Sime, like the players and teams, is looking forward to the next JTT season, which, judging by the overwhelmingly positive response of the league, will be this fall.