On May 18, Sportime Syosset Master Professional Sandra Nunez hosted 10 & Under Tennis Romanian National Coach Alexandru Pop-Moldovan and Doru Murariu, fitness director from Tennis Players Fitness Institute for a demonstration at Syosset Sportime. With the help of four young tennis players, Alex and Doru presented a new program on 10 & Under tennis. The system includes the structure of a lesson, the importance of coordination and motor skills, as well as team competition organization. Pops has broken up the under-10 tennis players into three distinct groups, Red, Orange and Green, each having their own ball and court size.
Alex, or “Pops” as he is known by his students and fellow tennis pros, together with his friend Doru Murariu, quite literally wrote the book on 10 & Under Tennis, having developed and authored a mini-tennis manual in Romania in 2010. The Romanian Tennis Federation has taken this manual and put its principals into practice all over Romania, using it to educate and instruct coaches, and starting a full schedule of mini-tennis tournaments.
According to Pops, to be a successful tennis player, kids need to “play, not drill.” With his system, kids are able to “serve, rally and score from the first lesson.” Pops has added two crucial pieces to his lesson structure, above and beyond the traditional warm-up and play tennis format. After the players have warmed up and stretched properly, Murariu advises a coordination segment working on tennis with or without the racket in hand. Something as simple as bouncing two basketballs can improve a tennis player's rhythm and reaction time, and is an extremely difficult thing to master, although it was made to look easy by his son Jose Murariu. Coordination games of different focuses were also outlined, including concentration, reaction, balance and rhythm. Young players Nicolette Loeffler and Sarah Reynolds both agreed that their favorite was “The Pirate Game,” a concentration drill where players must rally while covering one eye with their non-racket hand. Pops believes that cross-training is also vital to an enjoyable practice. Complimentary sports, such as soccer or hockey, can be a great way to exercise dexterity and foot speed, and Sportime student Aman Sharma agreed that it is a lot of fun.
The Red Group corresponds to five- through eight-year-olds, the Orange Group was eight- and nine-year-olds, and the Green Group was for the nine- and 10-year-old players. However, the age guidelines are not rigid, and Pops has outlined universal tests should a player want to move up to a division for which he or she is not yet of age. The system allows young tennis players to compete and play out full points, preparing them for the pressures of competition. To enter the tournament circuit, the test for that age group must be passed, and the player receives a passport allowing entry into tournaments of that group anywhere the tournaments are being held. Coming up through this system gives young players years of valuable experience in competition before reaching the 12-year-old age group that traditionally becomes involved in competitive tennis. The system also helps the parents of players, getting them used to the pressures of watching their children compete, so they are not hanging off the fence, living and dying with each shot.
The system for 10 & Under Tennis has grown the young tennis community in Pops’ home country of Romania from a mere 700 kids to more than 3,000 competitive young tennis players in just two years. He hopes that, through his efforts and with the help of local clubs around the United States, that we could have a similar growth spurt in mini-tennis as well. The system allows for kids of all ages to compete, progressing from beginners (using low-bounce balls on small courts) to full-sized courts and regular balls. The lessons are designed to keep the players focused, intense and give meaning and motivation through competition. Sportime Syosset coaches will be implementing the games in their summer camp.
For more information on the 10 & Under Tennis program, e-mail Pops at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the participants takes part in a basketball dribbling coordination drill
10 & Under Tennis Romanian National Coach Alexandru Pop-Moldovan discusses his methods and technioques at Sportime Syosset
Kids practice trapping the ball against the wall during the 10 & Under demo lesson
The 10 & Under techniques employed by Alexandru Pop-Moldovan are put to use by the kids at Sportime Syosset
Kids play hockey as they exercise dexterity and foot speed on the courts of Sportime Syosset