| By Whitney Kraft

Over 50 years ago, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called Hop on Pop.

It’s 2017, and a lot of tennis players are listening to dear old Dr. Seuss. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to “Hop Into Pop” … POP Tennis, that is.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tennis enthusiast looking for some extra fun on the court, or a facility owner or employee seeking new ways to both attract new clientele and retain current players. POP Tennis is great for everyone, no matter what your role is in the tennis community.

Are you a player? POP does not take much if any time to learn—you use a shorter paddle rather than a racket and serve underhanded with a low-compression ball on a 60-foot court. Not only is the learning curve quick, but POP will help your tennis and platform tennis game by emphasizing square contact and using angles at the net … not to mention, sharpen your reaction time!

The benefits for tennis directors are plentiful as well. POP does not require additional facilities, it will increase your revenue, increase the action on your courts, provide alternative fun for your patrons and POP allows increased programming for lessons, round-robins and tournaments.

Since most clubs have 60-foot courts and low-compression balls already, all you are doing is getting clients out on the court, putting paddles in their hands and watching them have a great time. For those who don’t have blended lines for the smaller court, the USTA actually offers grants to help expedite the process of applying them.

This is your opportunity to design a club of the future. You will still have all of your normal tennis programming, this will not be negatively impacted. But by introducing POP, you get to add a fun, easy-to-play sport that will attract clients who are intrigued, while keeping members around on days they might want something different than their normal hour on the court.

At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, we opened a POP Tennis class this spring and it’s been a hit. This summer will be an exciting one for us as well in the POP department, as we’re hosting the POP Tennis New York Open from July 29-30, one of three national stops for the POP Tennis Pro Series. While there will be a $10,000 prize fund for the event, all levels are welcome. We have both Pro and Amateur Divisions, but more importantly, fun for all. Our player social on that Saturday evening, July 29 is sure to be a blast.

Feel free to come by and check out the action even if you’re not playing. The matches will be fast-paced and fun to watch. We’re looking forward to seeing the top men’s and women’s doubles teams compete right here in New York.

After winning 11 straight titles, and remaining undefeated, Brothers Scott and Austin Doerner (former NCAA top tennis players) just won their third title in a row in St. Augustine at what was a really amazing event. The 45th Annual National Beach POP Tennis Championship also drew Michelle Greco, tennis player turned pro basketball player (2004 WNBA Champion with the Seattle Storm) and Viviana Rojas de Heil, a former number one junior in Columbia, an all-American tennis player and pro who have a combined seven POP championship doubles titles.

Now let’s be clear … POP is not all about prize pools. But the event in St. Augustine had the largest prize pool in history, and now we are topping that mark in July in New York. This sport and its community are growing exponentially.

Ready to compete? Go to TennisLink.USTA.com/Tournaments and enter Tournament ID#: 100147517 for more information.

The time is now to listen to Dr. Seuss—he knew a thing or two, and “Hop on POP!”

Whitney Kraft

<p>Since 2007, Whitney Kraft has been the director of tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. and director of player operations for the U.S. Open. Previously, he was director of tennis for the City of Fort Lauderdale Park &amp; Recreation Department (1998-2007).</p>