Tennis is a fun sport to teach kids and one that anyone can play throughout their lives. Preschool kids can learn the game, but try getting on your knees, which brings you closer to your child’s height, and serve or hit the ball from the baseline. That can be a bit intimidating for your average 4-year-old trying to learn to play tennis. That’s why the United States Tennis Association implemented “QuickStart Tennis” using a shorter court.
Court and Equipment
Kids 8 years old and younger play QuickStart Tennis on a court that measures 36 feet by 18 feet. The court has no doubles alleys. This contrasts with a full-size court (with doubles alleys), which measures 78 feet by 36 feet. Little kids also use modified equipment. Children 5 and younger use a tennis racket that measures 19 or 21 inches (as opposed to a standard size racket of 27 inches) and a larger and lighter tennis ball that moves slower and bounces lower.
Scoring for the 8 and under set playing QuickStart Tennis differs from adult tennis. This age group wins a match by winning the best of three games, first to seven points. So the first player to win seven points wins the game, and the first player to win two games wins the match. The terminology for the points is also different. Instead of “love,” “15,” “30,” “40,” points are called “zero,” “1,” “2” and so on, up to “7.” Children playing QuickStart don’t need to win by two points.
One player spins the racket to determine who serves first. The server gets to serve two points. The opponent then serves two points. This continues until someone gets seven points, which is game. If the player who won the first game wins the second game, he wins the match. If the players split games, they play a third game to determine the match winner.
Playing the Game
The server stands behind the baseline on the deuce (right) side and serves to the diagonal service box, just as in traditional tennis. But in QuickStart using the 36-foot court, serves can be underhand. In traditional tennis, serves are typically overhand. The server calls the score (server’s score first) and serves the ball. The point is played out, the same as in traditional tennis. The opponent must return a good serve over the net after one bounce inside the court or on the line. After the return of serve, players can hit the ball in the air (a volley) or after it bounces one time (a ground stroke). A player wins a point if his opponent can’t return the ball to the opposite end of the court inside or on the line. A player loses a point if he returns the ball outside the lines, in the net, or misses it altogether. After the point ends, the server serves to the other side.