To help Villagers find ways to get outside and be more active as spring draws near, members of the Tellico Village Tennis Club are offering a new, free tennis program.
Rusty Racquets is intended for people who want to learn the game, as well as those who used to play and want to get back into it.
“We have recently formed a committee to rebuild the tennis program in Tellico Village,” Brent Greider, club member, said. “One of our objectives is to roll out a Rusty Racquets tennis program in late March or early April. This will be a training program to help people who once played tennis long ago and want to brush up on their skills or for beginners who have never played and want to learn how to play.”
Participation in tennis has declined in the Village over the years, but Greider believes the program will help boost interest.
“I guess in the old days there was a guy that ran tennis here as an organization,” Greider said. “It used to be a lot more formalized and had A, B and C players, which means you’ve got to have evaluations and all that. In the last 10 years, pickleball has gone through the roof. They’ve got over 600 members and tennis has about 100 or 150 members right now.”
The program will go through a trial run this spring and will cover four days — March 25 and 27, and April 10 and 12. The program will be led by tennis veteran Mark Williams at Chota Recreation Center.
“I played high school, college and sectional tennis in the New York City area,” Williams said. “I taught tennis in the New England area for more than 40 years and moved here last spring. We’re trying to promote tennis here in Tellico Village and get new people involved. Right now, there’s not really a pathway for people that have never played or played in a long time ago.”
Williams will train several intermediate-level players in the Village to help teach Rusty Racquets sessions.
“Anybody can come to those,” he said. “It would be beginners, as well as any players with any sort of experience. It’s so easy and simple that it can be passed along. I’ve developed a methodology so that they can train beginners. That way, it could continue to pass along. Once a beginner is familiar with it, they could pass it along to someone that’s never played before.”
Sessions will last two hours and will cover the fundamentals of the game.
“The whole premise is that it’s just for fun and we’re just hitting easy drills and teaching the basics,” Greider said. “You go through this two-hour session and you’re good to go as a beginner. We’re not going to play games or keep score. Basic tennis skills will be covered, including forehands, backhands, serving, volleying and scoring.”
Williams hopes the Rusty Racquets program will push others to pick up tennis in the Village.
“Pickleball has a pathway and when I came in last April, they had a Pickleball Week,” Williams said. “If you liked it, they would sign you up in the Pickleball Club and they were giving you sessions and ratings. They have a play period every day for every rating. It’s not like in tennis where you have to seek it out. If you’re a beginner player, there’s nothing here for you. You’d have to go to a club in Knoxville or something to take lessons, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a way for people to get started and give them a time period where they can play and get coached.”
Summer and fall sessions may be announced at a later date, but the committee will wait and see how successful the spring sessions are before making a decision.
“We’re going to see how this goes, to be honest,” Greider said. “If nobody shows up, then we won’t go forward. If there’s a lot of interest, then we’ll revisit this later on and set up some other dates.”