| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Credit photo: Sarah Sklar

The eyes of the local tennis world were recently on Sportime Kings Park, as the Sportime World Tour kicked off. The concept is to make the kids feel as if they were real professional players by tying the event to current professional tournaments being played on the ATP/WTA Tours. The first stop on the Sportime World Tour was "Beijing," as more than 200 kids turned out for a day of tennis clinics, tournaments, music, food and a chance to hang out with those from all the Sportime locations across Long Island.

The participants were split into three groups, based on their level, Red, Orange or Green. Each child was issued a “Passport” upon arrival and had the chance to walk the red carpet for Instagram/Facebook photos before taking to the courts for the start of the tournament. Sportime pros and coaches worked with the kids to practice fundamentals, while also competing in individual matches that won points for their respective teams.

The event was much different than most kids’ 12 & Under Tennis events on Long Island, as the Sportime World Tour brought an international and pro tournament atmosphere to the day. In addition to the kids and their families walking the red carpet and taking part in a mini-photo shoot, players and parents enjoyed catered food and refreshments. Long Island Tennis Magazine set up radio interviews and on-court interviews with the kids and took photographs of all the fun, along with giving each family a copy of the latest edition.

“The goal of these events is to create a fun and social atmosphere for the players, as well as parents, around the tournament,” said Jason Wass, Sportime Kings Park director of tennis and organizer of the World Tour event. Vendors, such as Grand Slam Tennis and others, had great giveaways and helped make it feel like a community event. The event was free for all who attended, and all left with a smile.

“My favorite part of the day was seeing all my friends hanging out and getting to play tennis with them,” said Jayson, a nine-year-old who plays tennis at Sportime Kings Park.

Emily, a seven-year old from Sportime Syosset, said, “I’m excited to play in the tennis tournament, and I hope I win!”

The players participated in team competition as well.

“We want players to leave with a sense of teamwork and sportsmanship during competition,” said Wass. “It’s important at this age to emphasize attitude and effort over results.”

The next stop on the Sportime World Tour will be "Melbourne," as there will be an Australian theme as the pros will be in action at the 2015 Australian Open as Stage Two of the Sportime World Tour will take place Saturday, Jan. 31 at Sportime Bethpage.

Credit photos to Sarah Sklar