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  What is mini tennis?
Updated 19 June 2002, 14.01
Thousands of kids now play mini tennis in Britain
Mini tennis is becoming increasingly popular with children up and down the country, but what exactly is it and where did it come from?

What is mini tennis?
Mini tennis is an introduction to tennis for kids aged three to 12. It's a mini version of the real game using special rackets and balls designed for smaller hands and bodies.

How did it get started?
In 1985 there was 'short tennis'. This was played indoors using plastic rackets and sponge balls. Then in March 2001 mini tennis replaced it. Mini tennis is seen as more fun for kids while at the same time giving a better introduction to the game and competitions.

So how does it work?
The game is played using three different types of ball, racket, and court sizes.

The mini tennis balls come in red, orange and green depending on what level you're at

The balls are red, orange and green, and the rackets range in length.

The red ball is almost like sponge and is used by beginners. Because it's so spongey it doesn't bounce very high, so making it easier for young children to control.

The orange ball has more pressure in it, but can still be easily squashed in your hand.

The green ball is harder and contains more pressure, which makes it travel faster and bounce higher on court.

There are three different sizes of racket in mini tennis

Training sessions

During a typical training session children will not just be learning tennis skills.

The court is split up into sections and every child does an activity that develops different areas of their athleticism.

According to Steve Amos, who's the County Mini Tennis coach for the Lawn Tennis Association in Nottinghamshire, a child can develop co-ordination up to the age of 12, but after that it becomes a lot harder.

Awards and competiitons
From September 2002 mini tennis will have its own awards system.

Children will be able to gain stickers for completing various sections of the course which they can then stick on an award card.

You can win stickers during the training sessions

Once each card is complete they can move up a level in the programme.

The children also have many opportunities to play against other kids in local teams.

These competitions are seen by the children as fun events where they can meet new people and make friends, as opposed to being highly competitive.

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Web Links
Official mini tennis site
Lawn Tennis Association
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