» USA Tennis

USTA NNMTA's Fall Middle School Tennis League

(A USA Team Tennis White Division Event)

Building lives through tennis and education…

As a result of the efforts of Northern New Mexico Tennis Association, the ranks of area high school tennis teams are now filling with former middle school league players.

In the fall of 1996 a middle school tennis league was established to provide middle school students the opportunity to learn and play tennis in a 6-8 week after school league. Through this program, students identify with and represent their schools, wearing team shirts with their school names and school colors. In 2004 over 660 middle school students from both public and private schools participated in the program at least twice per week during the after school hours, the worst at-risk period of their day. These students are involved in a healthy, active sport, learning skills that will help them throughout their lives. Good sportsmanship, adherence to the rules, and grace in victory and defeat are encouraged.

Six schools and approximately 120 students participated in 1996. In the nine years of its existence, the program has grown annually and serves over 3000 middle school students from all different ethnic and economic groups, and growing to include schools and programs in Las Vegas, Taos, Belen, Los Alamos, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and the Four Corners Area.

The program was developed because of the vacuum with regard to after school activities for middle school children. These children are at a crucial stage of development and transition, moving from the safe, secure environment of elementary school with one class and one teacher to an intimidating environment with as many as 6 classes and teachers, where they are frequently lost in the crowd. School spirit and school activities such as this provide these young adults with a sense of belonging within their schools.

Parents, physical education teachers, high school coaches and teaching pros have been recruited from throughout the tennis community to share the sport they love. High school players have also been recruited as assistant coaches and mentors for the 6th-8th grade students. Through this program, children that otherwise might not have had the opportunity to play tennis have been given a chance to see what it can do for them.