Penn Oaks seeks to help young tennis players

88ad4686-ff8a-4582-8706-e2ab9bc285f0WEST CHESTER — As New York prepares for the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y., Penn Oaks Tennis and Fitness Center has their eyes on introducing the game to future stars.

Joining with the organization that sponsors the U.S. Open– the United States Tennis Association (USTA) — on August 31 Penn Oaks is beginning a quick-start program for junior players between the ages of 5 and 12.  

Club owner, James Sulzman, says that among great players, tennis professionals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both went through this program.  “Tennis is first about developing strong fundamentals, footwork, and body positioning.  Then, a player can learn the strategies of the game.  This teaching approach helps youngsters succeed and ideally instills in them a love of the game.” 

The methodology uses special decompressed balls, which grant players extra time to track the ball, learn the fundamentals, and use them repeatedly, all without feeling rushed or frustrated.  The slightly smaller courts allows the younger smaller player to play a version of tennis more comparable to the actual game they will be playing ten years down the road. 

“Instead of responding to the oncoming ball with a swat and need to hit it hard, children will be able to move into the right position and really learn the stroke.  It will teach patience and focus but give kids the groundwork for becoming excellent players in the future,” says Sulzman.

In a sport that often was only for country club players and the wealthy, Penn Oaks is determined to introduce it to all children.  “Our goal is to price the program so all kids can learn about the game without a huge monetary commitment.  It can be stressful as a parent to put financial resources toward a sport, just to hear a child say they don’t like it,” he said.

In response, Penn Oaks is offering eight-week sessions throughout the year with special pricing as low as $20 per hour so younger kids can try the game.  For information, go to .

“We’ve had a lot of great tennis players come out of Penn Oaks.  They started young and became top players in high school and college,” Sulzman said, naming Penn Oaks’ own pro, Christ Louis, along with more recent Max Kane at Bucknell and Zaina Zaki at University of Connecticut.  The club will continue to give top-notch training to the athletes with tennis experience and to adults of all levels and abilities, “But this program is just one more opportunity to introduce a life-time sport to our youngest players.”

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