Tri-State Tennis Association and The Tennis Club offer free play time

September 16, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Logan Feeney, 10, of Shippensburg, Pa., plays during Sunday's "USTA Free Tennis Play Day" at The Tennis Club in Zullinger, Pa.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

ZULLINGER, Pa. — The “thwap” of tennis balls echoed through The Tennis Club on Sunday as players young and old used the courts.

The Tri-State Tennis Association and The Tennis Club participated in the United State Tennis Association’s (USTA) “Tennis Play Day” to open the facilities to youths. The free event was held in cooperation with Nickelodeon television’s Worldwide Day of Play.

Tennis is a sport for all ages, organizers said.

“It’s a sport of a lifetime. Look at us,” Al McGarity said, gesturing to himself and the gray-haired men sitting around him.

The USTA is taking steps to help young children start playing tennis. Those include lower nets, smaller courts and rackets, and low-compression balls that do not bounce as high as traditional tennis balls.

“We’re going to help them with hand-eye coordination and help them get cardio to stay fit,” said Bill Wissinger, owner of The Tennis Club and vice president of the Tri-State Tennis Association.


The nonprofit Tri-State Tennis Association formed in July 2010 to help area children get more playing time and experience before regional competitions, according to Darryl Shanholtz, a Clear Spring resident who is the association’s president.

McGarity, association secretary and St. Maria Goretti High School tennis coach, said many teenage tennis players do not get playing time outside high school, but they need to play two to three times a week to remain competitive.

Since the Tri-State Tennis Association formed, more youths are now advancing from regional to state competitions, Shanholtz said.

“The kids even said playing year-round helped them,” McGarity said.

The instructional team has more than 125 members, Wissinger said. The fall league has 37 members and the winter one has about 100, Shanholtz said.

The winter league spans 10 to 13 weeks and costs $70, Shanholtz said.

Participating youths hail from Franklin County in Pennsylvania, Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland, and Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia.

A couple of people signed up for offerings after attending the Tennis Play Day, Wissinger said.

Chambersburg, Pa., resident Eric Jett started playing tennis with a friend when he was in sixth grade.

“His parents had the old Wilson rackets — the red one and the blue one — sitting in the kitchen,” said Jett, now 37.

Jett said he considers tennis to be similar to golf in that it can be played over the course of a lifetime. He said he enjoys meeting people and strengthening relationships when he plays tennis.

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