Raising Tennis Kids in Africa
Hi, I have been a regular reader of this thread for a few months and while most of the info here is from a US perspective I would like to get your take on my situation.
I live in Lagos, Nigeria and I have two girls who are avid tennis players, they are 9 and 6 years old and at the moment we try and get an hour or two of play in on a daily basis. They currently play with me and my wife and also with a PTR qualified coach who has a few years experience of coaching juniors in the UK.
We are able to play pretty much all year round as we don't have any winter (Our only problem is that in the day it can be too hot). Compared to Europe and US tennis is very cheap. We have lots of court time and there are always ball boys and hitters to play with. Facilities are not great but we have
The main problem we have is that junior competitive tennis is almost non existent. As a result my kids have the opportunity to hit a lot of balls but as they progress their chances of playing competitively on a regular basis are limited. How important is it and a what age to people feel that playing regular competitive tennis is important?
Also I am thinking of taking my kids for a week or two to a tennis academy to help with their exposure to other tennis players and also fuel their motivation. Can anyone give any recommendations of places they have been, especially for kids of a similar age. (US or Europe). I was looking at the Mouratoglou academy in Paris, Brugera in Spain or potentially somewhere in Florida as we may travel there later this year. My main concern is at what age is it really worth spending the money on these camps and how much benefit will the kids get.
I would really love for my kids to be able to reach a level of tennis where maybe they could maybe get the opportunity to get a college scholarship in the US. The key for now is giving them a great foundation in the game which they will have for the rest of the lives.
I look forward to any info / advice you can offer. This is a tough environment for tennis players to develop in as it can be very isolated.
Kids can hit balls in a drill all day long but there is no replacement for a live ball in a match-like setting. Critical to development is finding competitive matches, especially when kids get to be 14, 15, and 16 years old. I think that's the challenge you're facing as this is where kids learn toughness, how to play tennis and how to really compete.
The difference between a very good player and a great player often lies in one's ability to out-compete the opponent. In my opinion, this is a piece of the puzzle that is lacking in the US...not enough of this happening. We need to do a better job of organizing daily scraps with consequences to the loser. In other words, make the match meaningful even if it's something as silly as loser buys gatorade. It doesn't have to be a full 3 sets but simulate some kind of match. Kids will reach new levels with more competition but the current system of getting involved in a tennis program and drilling every day often prevents this from happening.
If you're looking for kids to hit with, Florida has many great options, particularly south Florida. You can reach out to people like Saviano, Dean Goldfine, ZMG (Juan Nunez), Martin Blackman - I'm sure any of these guys would be accommodating or at least point you in the right direction.
Good luck to you.
Thanks for the advice. I would like to get them playing more meaningful competition from at least 11 years old. Anyone else who has sent their kids to any tennis camps / academies who can recommend good ones for a short trip would be appreciated. I worry that many of them are now just big money making ventures.
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