The Tennis Hot Shots Schools programme is the national starter initiative for New Zealand children aged 5-12.
A total of 5,330 pupils in 40 schools around the region can enjoy tennis classes throughout the year.
From Murchison to Collingwood to Hira – nearly every school in the Nelson and Tasman regions are part of it.
The programme uses a ‘learning through play’ approach integrated with the school physical education curriculum to develop each child’s basic ball skills – hitting, throwing, catching, and exercise.
Five coaches deliver the programme in areas surrounding their clubs and Ngaire Calder is one of them.
She works with the children at Brightwater School. “We get together with them every year, so we’ve got a good relationship, we must capture their attention right at the start, and make it fun for them so they want to do it”, she says.
The children have three lessons a year in each school and then they are invited to attend the classes at the Tennis Club closest to them. “This is the third lesson that they received today and after that they are invited back to the local club, which is the Waimea West Club, for their fourth lesson after school,” says Ngaire.
Tennis Hot Shots is just for children. Smaller courts, shorter racquets, and softer balls mean that they can play a proper game of tennis from the moment they step on to the court.
“It’s fun”, says 7-year old player Otis Taylor. “We are doing shots and we are trying to squish the ball and then he hits it back to me and I try to squish the ball, then we keep doing that over and over”.
Asked about how he describes the tennis lessons to his parents, Otis says: “I tell them that I’m very good”.
The Brightwater School teacher, Sherryn Lines, approves of the idea. “They love it”, she says. “They think they are like real tennis players and it helps their coordination and it’s good to get them out and about and moving”.
The Tennis Hot Shots Schools programme was launched nationally by Tennis NZ in October 2013 and started in the Nelson Tasman region in 2014.