Teaching Tennis

In Long Beach, Calif., tennis is called a “lifestyle for a lifetime.” Thousands of tots, teens, adults and senior citizens play each year on the Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine (LBPRM) Department’s 35 public-park courts in organized programs or for free drop-in play. LBPRM’s Billie Jean King and El Dorado Park Tennis Centers are managed by First Serve Tennis Inc., which is owned and operated by Cathy Jacobson-Guzy, a United States Professional Tennis Association-certified teaching pro with over 25 years of experience as a head pro and facility manager. These two centers provide an additional 23 courts, lessons, classes, programs, tournaments and full-service pro shops, including racquet stringing and equipment sales and rentals.

Something For Everyone

The key to the success of a tennis program is literally offering “something for everyone.” First Serve is contracted by LBPRM to offer more than 100 classes each quarter for tots (ages 4-5), “First-Stroke” students (5-6 year olds), youth and adult classes and academies, as well as “Mommy, Daddy and Me” groups to get 2- and 3-year-olds started in the sport. Within each age grouping, students are classified as a beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate or advanced, and choose private or group lessons. Tennis programs targeted to specific interests–such as Cardio Tennis and Serve-and-Volley Clinics–also are well-attended.

First Serve Tennis’ affordable fees and free court-use policies have kept participation up in a down economy. Hourly court rental rates start at $6, which means a group of four plays tennis for only $1.50 per hour. The company also offers free court use from 3-5 p.m. on non-holiday weekdays for students age 17 and under with student ID cards, and for senior citizens age 65 years and over.

Tennis As A Social Sport

For those who want to play but do not have partners, First Serve offers tennis ladders for teens and adults. Players are grouped by ability level and placed on a “rung,” where they move up or down depending upon winning or losing matches. Players enjoy being able to compete and meet partners who become friends. Twilight Tennis programs for adults are held Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, providing opportunities to meet other players, play, and have fun.

Youth Tennis Camps during spring, summer and winter school breaks allow kids to have fun while discovering the game. Beginners learn basic fundamentals, while intermediate players develop groundstrokes, serves and volleys. Advanced juniors fine-tune their game by simulating pressure situations during game-like scenarios. Good sportsmanship and a positive attitude are strongly promoted.

Home Of Champions

Long Beach hosts five United States Tennis Association (USTA)-sanctioned tournaments each year, including the El Dorado Park Junior Satellite, Annual Long Beach Junior Satellite, USTA National Open Boys’ and Girls’ 14’s, Annual Long Beach Junior Open, Annual Long Beach Open and the Annual Long Beach Senior Tournament.

Several players who have competed in Long Beach’s USTA National Opens recently fulfilled their primary tennis goals. A high percentage of these players have earned scholarships to major universities, including USC, UCLA, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Pepperdine, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina and UC-Irvine. A few players have even launched professional tennis careers. Alexa Glatch of Newport Beach, Calif., was named “Junior Player of the Year” by Inside Tennis magazine, and ranked Number 5 in the world junior rankings in 2005. She competed at the U.S. Open in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009, she competed in the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., received a wild card into the 2008 U.S. Open Junior Girls’ Singles tournament and won without dropping a set.

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