Guam – For about an hour early Tuesday afternoon, close to 100 children at Tamuning Elementary School picked up a tennis racket and ball to engage in simple, fun drills in the school’s courtyard.
“I liked the bumping drill and also the one where you make the ball go up, then (hit the ball) down,” said 10-year-old Bryzen Punongbayan, a fifth grader at Tamuning Elementary. “I took tennis lessons before with my dad, but he is really strict about learning. (On Tuesday), it was fun. I hope we can have more fun activities like tennis here at school.”
[Sheila Kurosu, USTA Hawaii-Pacific Section’s Director of School Tennis, leads a tennis drill for kids at the Tamuning Elementary School courtyard. Kurosu is in Guam for one week to introduce the sport into various elementary schools as part of USTA’s Schools Program and to certify local teachers and coaches to conduct entry-level tennis training.]
As part of its grassroots development program, Tennis Academy of Guam (TAG) invited Sheila Kurosu, the USTA Hawaii-Pacific Section’s Director of School Tennis, to conduct a week’s worth of tennis coaching and instruction at seven different elementary schools. Kurosu works directly with kids from the schools early each day and later, conducts a workshop for teachers or coaches from those schools to certify them to continue entry-level tennis training. The entry-level tennis training is ideally designed for children in the second to fifth grade. Kurosu normally handles groups of about 30 participants, but for large schools in Guam, she is able to facilitate sessions with triple the amount of participants with the help of TAG volunteers and some local junior players.
“Overall, we’ve seen a decline in participation in youth sports and I think the missing component is fun – letting the kids have fun while playing the sport,” Kurosu said. “There was a survey done with thousands of children ages 11 to 17 years old and they were asked what they looked for in playing a sport. The top answer was ‘fun’ – the sport had to be fun for them. The next one was a sport where they could be with friends and third, they had to like their coach.
“We’ve tried different programs to help grow tennis at the youth level, but one of the best ways we’ve found is to take the show to them – take tennis to where they are, which is at the schools,” added Kurosu, a PTR Certified Pro and a USPTA Certified Developmental Coach.
From the first day at Juan M. Guerrero and Liguan Elementary Schools, 28 teachers were certified. Before the week is over, Kurosu also will have brought the sport of tennis into Tamuning Elementary School, St. Anthony Catholic School, Bishop Baumgartner Memorial School, C.L Taitano Elementary School, and St. John’s School. Those certified are encouraged to integrate tennis into their overall physical education curriculum, and to help make the sport increasingly inclusive among students regardless of ability or background.
[Children from Tamuning Elementary School listen intently for instructions on a tennis drill from Sheila Kurosu, USTA Hawaii-Pacific Section’s Director of School Tennis during a workshop at the Tamuning school. Kurosu is in Guam for one week to introduce the sport into various elementary schools as part of USTA’s Schools Program and to certify local teachers and coaches to conduct entry-level tennis training.]
Particularly for public schools that complete the program with Kurosu, TAG, Morrico Equipment and Triple B Forwarders have offered to offset the initial $100 cost to become a three-year member of the USTA Schools Tennis. Membership affords the schools a tennis workshop, curriculum packet with lesson plans, and equipment among other benefits – roughly about a $600 value, Kurosu said. Equipment for qualifying school includes 30 tennis rackets, varieties of developmental tennis balls, a pop-up net, and a rope-net system. Triple B Forwarders generously shipped the initial equipment bundles to Guam from Hawaii, according to TAG’s Torgun Smith. Member schools also qualify to apply for various USTA grants to support after-school tennis programs, team tennis, or to provide more equipment, among others.
For other schools wanting to take advantage of the Schools Program after Kurosu’s departure, TAG will be qualified to certify schools and teachers. To schedule a session with TAG, contact Joe Cepeda at 988-7479 or Torgun Smith at 687-5483.
The Schools Program was started in the early 1980s by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who helped to eradicate the perceived exclusivity of the sport and also to use tennis as a vehicle to educate children.
For more information about the Schools Program, visit http://www.hawaii.usta.com/play_tennis/school_tennis/peteachers.