The USTA has promoted the idea of buying smaller rackets and lower-compression balls for kids — a program now called 10 and Under Tennis. The color-coded equipment is readily available in stores that sell sporting goods but Idaho Tennis Association Executive Director Mike Harvey still sees too many children with giant rackets in their hands or yellow balls bouncing over their heads.
“It’s grown, but not enough,” Harvey said.
The idea is to have youngsters play the game on a smaller portion of the court, with a racket they can swing comfortably and with a ball that provides a larger target, won’t bounce over their heads and doesn’t speed past them.
The starter red balls are recommended for players 5 to 8 years old. Racket sizes are recommended at 23 inches or less. Kids then move up through smaller, bouncier balls and larger rackets: orange balls for 9 to 10 (racket size: 23-25), green balls for ages 9 to 12 (racket size: 25-27) and standard yellow balls for ages 11 and over (racket size: 25-29).
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The court sizes progress, too. The recommendation for the red group is 36 feet long by 18 feet wide. Ann Morrison Park in Boise and Settlers Park in Meridian have these specialty courts.
For the orange group, the recommended court is 60 feet long. All new courts built by Boise Parks and Recreation must include lines for a 60-foot game as part of the deal that brought the Davis Cup to town in 2013.
And at the green group, kids progress to a full, 78-foot court.