, 6 December 2012 | James Hunter-Smith

MLC Tennis Hot Shots (MLCTHS) has received yet another boost with the introduction of a new nation-wide program, MLCTHS Community.

Eighty tennis clubs across Australia are trialing the initiative throughout the remainder of 2012 before the program officially launches in 2013.

MLCTHS is Tennis Australia’s junior development program that uses modified courts, low compression balls and smaller raquets to get kids playing and rallying from their very first lesson. The three progression stages – Red, Orange and Green – facilitate optimal development and help youngsters learn at their own pace.

MLCTHS Community aims to give current and future participants an opportunity to play tennis in a relaxed and friendly environment, stepping away from the more rigid teaching platforms found in lessons.

The program is separated into Red, Orange and Green stages, similar to the MLCTHS lessons. Each session incorporates “Warm-up”, “Challenge” and “Play” components allowing youngsters to participate in fun game-style activities, making the program a perfect stepping stone for kids finding themselves caught between the basic beginner coaching level and formal competitions/tournaments.  

The scoring component also serves as a gradual transition into proper matchplay, using tiebreak point systems instead of formal sets (e.g. first to 5, 10 or 15 points).

Club volunteers, coaches and parents are on hand to help oversee the sessions ensuring their smooth operation as well as providing the best opportunities for kids to enjoy playing tennis among old and new friends.

“MLC Tennis Hot Shots Community allows tennis to be more accessible for all kids and encourages families to get down to the local tennis club,” MLCTHS Leader Craig Morris said. 

“Kids are introduced to tennis in an environment which is suited to their age and skill level allowing them to enjoy playing the sport and have fun.”

But the MLCTHS Community Pilot Program offers more than just a play and participation-focused tennis session. It is also coupled with weekly themes and messages to help encourage sportsmanship and promote a mature competition environment.

Each week parents and volunteers reinforce a message from the Be a Good Sport platform. The messages, which are essential to tennis, include:

  • Week 1: Shake hands with your opponent at the end of the match.
  • Week 2: Call the lines fairly
  • Week 3: Call the score clearly
  • Week 4: Give your best effort
  • Week 5: Be a good teammate
  • Week 6: Respect your opponent

Local community coordinators are also encouraged to recognise player achievements (e.g. for the player who reaches the highest score in the Challenge activities) to further the positive environment.

While MLCTHS Community provides kids with an opportunity to go out and enjoy their tennis, the benefits also extend to local tennis clubs by giving them greater exposure and participation within their area.

Players not already enrolled in the MLCTHS program are welcome to attend the sessions, encouraging newcomers to pick up a racquet and get involved in the community.

“MLCTHS Community will allow tennis to be more accessible for all kids and encourage families to get down to the local tennis club and create a really positive community environment,” Tennis Australia Club Professional Coach Rufus Keown said.

“It’s so important we give our young tennis players the chance to play outside of a weekly tennis lesson.”

MLCTHS Community will be officially launched in 2013 with Tennis Australia aiming to get more than 500 clubs around Australia involved with the program.

Information on how to get involved will be available on hotshots.tennis.com.au in the coming weeks. Also keep up to date with all the latest news on http://www.facebook.com/TennisHotShots.