The city of Sparks Parks and Recreation Department offers tennis lessons throughout the summer in what is one of the city’s more popular programs. The department offers seven sessions for youths age 6 to 17 and two more sessions of Pee Wee tennis lessons for children ages 4 and 5. What’s more, is the multiple lessons have been offered for years now.
“Just to have access to tennis outside of a country club is great,” said Seth Adams, a Sparks resident whose children Alma, 8, and Callie, 4, both participate in the lessons. “We just moved up from Las Vegas a year ago and didn’t see a lot of programs. To get them involved in tennis of some kind was great for us.
“We’ve been trying to get them to sit down and watch Wimbledon with us as it just finished. Tennis is just a lot more of an active sport. There are a lot of sports that have so much idle time. For kids this age, that’s tough. In tennis, you’re always active.”
Mark Humes teaches the tennis lessons for the city. Humes is a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) certified professional and coach. This summer marks his fifth straight year teaching lessons to area youth and he loves every minute of it.
“It’s great fun,” Humes said. “It’s neat to see the kids progress and watch them learn all the strokes. It’s amazing how fast they can learn. Each session we want to teach them all the strokes, but you kind of have to see what their ability is. Sometimes we’ll get a class with a few returners and we’ll split them up and even do a separate class. Every session is different.”
Local Parks and Rec officials have a pretty good idea why the the tennis programs are popular.
“It is one of our more popular programs and almost every single sessions fills up,” said Cindy Brantner, a Sparks Parks and Rec representative said. “I think a big part of that is the instructor. We get a lot of repeat customers. Mark does a great job with the kids. He’s a really patient person and no matter the playing level of the kid he teaches them from there.”
Heather Steward has a 9-year-old son and 7-year old daughter enrolled in the current session. While most parents sign their kids up to keep them busy, Steward’s reasoning was a bit different.
“Our kids expressed interest in wanting to play and I thought it would be a good opportunity to give them exposure to the sport. They’ve really enjoyed it,” Steward said. “I want them to learn the basic skills, enjoy the game and then possibly pursue it.”
Humes likes offering the public lessons through the city because it exposes tennis to people outside the country club set. He mentioned how Reno-Sparks has two private tennis clubs, but stressed how those are pretty closed to outsiders.
“This program is good to get kids exposed to tennis,” Humes said. “And the sport has really grown. When I was learning we only had wood rackets. Now we’ve got junior rackets and smaller nets and different kinds of balls like the big foam balls so young kids don’t’ get scared.
“It’s fun to see the kids try a sport that is a lifetime sport; and it can be played anywhere in the world. There’s always a park nearby with tennis courts. It’s just neat to see kids try different things.”
Humes said tennis might pale in popularity among the youth ranks when compared to soccer, baseball, softball and other more traditional sports. But he said kids who play tennis can improve in those other sports, as well.
“There are so many great things about tennis,” Humes said. “The great thing about tennis is the hand-eye coordination used is great for other sports too.”
Information on the city of Sparks Parks and Recreation Department’s tennis lessons and other summer programs are available online at www.ci.sparks.nv.us/living/parks_rec.
“We try to offer a lot of programs and we try to do that for all different ages,” Brantner said.