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From Teddy Bears to 10 and Under: CourtSense Teaches Kids to Love Tennis

January 4, 2013 03:53 PM
Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, lived a couple of teddy bears who loved tennis and wanted to teach it to their cubs. But the bears knew that cubs didn’t want to stand in a line and hit balls – they wanted to pretend, dance, and play.
So in 2008, the "bears," (known in real life as Richard and Stephen Bean of England) launched Teddy Tennis, a program that blends music, pictures, and "Teddy Bear" stories into an interactive tennis adventure for children ages 2 1/2 to 5. The program, which has been adopted around the world, is offered daily at CourtSense at Tenafly Racquet Club (Tenafly, NJ) and is part of the club’s Junior Tennis program that provides personal attention and innovative instruction to children of all ages and abilities.
"Tennis can be hard to pick up, at first, especially for young children," said Ognen Nikolovski, General Manager of CourtSense Tennis Training Center. "Teddy Tennis is a fun way to introduce kids to tennis and the CourtSense program, where we work to ensure children have the foundation to enjoy the sport for the rest of their lives." 
Teaching the Cubs
In Teddy Tennis, instructors follow carefully constructed lesson plans that are based on the child’s age and ability, and identified by six different bears, from Danny Bear to Johnny Bear.
To learn how to hit a forehand, the children first sit in a circle and are told a story about how Danny Bear swings his racquet. Then, they practice their strokes, while listening to a song called "Danny Swing" that tells them what to do and helps with their timing. The rhythm of the song matches a beat that instructors often use with beginner students: bounce…hit.
Interwoven throughout the lessons are short group discussions, where children talk about their favorite animals and bears, or react to what happens in each story.
"Teddy Tennis is a creative and relaxed way to learn to play tennis," said Jordana Berger, Managing Member and Director of the club’s Teddy Tennis program.  "And because it is so much fun, kids do not even realize they are learning."
After Teddy Tennis
After Teddy Tennis, parents can enroll their children in the CourtSense Junior Tennis program, which uses the kid-friendly courts and equipment of 10 and Under Tennis to teach children the sport.
The program has a teacher to student ratio of 3 to 1, with students moving from court to court, working on their serves, volleys, and ground strokes. Each session also has a fitness period, where the students head to the gym to develop their strength and speed.
The curriculum was developed in 2002 by Gordon Uehling, the founder and General Manager of CourtSense, and part of the coaching team of professional tennis players, Novak Djokovic and Christina McHale. Since then, CourtSense has grown to include Tenafly Racquet Club, Bogota Racquet Club, and summer programs at three local country clubs.
"All of the students in our juniors programs receive the same training, and the same personal attention," said Uehling. "And it’s this consistency that has helped them see improvement each year and develop a love for the game."
Teddy Tennis and CourtSense programs are offered throughout the year, with the next trimester starting in March. To sign up or learn more, visit or call (201) 569-1114.