Houston City Club junior tennis team first at state
Four years ago Zeze de Moura and Greg Vinbladh corralled sixty 10-and-under boys and girls on the Houston City Club practice courts to teach them how to channel their energy into a positive activity by learning to play tennis.
Since that time the club’s 10-and-under program has ballooned to 800 youngsters enrolled during the summer and to full after-school weekday and Saturday morning classes during the school year.
The program has been so successful that one of the club’s junior teams won a state championship several weeks ago. The Houston City Club Hooligans team won the 10-and-under Green ball Intermediate title at the Junior Team Tennis Sectionals play-offs in Abilene. Team members are Krishnan Bhagriaju, Shiv Khera, Nadia Khera, Khaleel Walji, Taylor Collins and Anaiah Smith.
“We’re thrilled that our team brought home medals from Abilene,” de Moura, head of player development, said, “but our main commitment to the kids is to teach self-discipline and good sportsmanship, increase their stamina and develop proper footwork and technique.”
De Moura and Vinbladh, director of tennis at the club in Greenway Plaza, credit the success of the program to the positive word of mouth generated by the kids and their parents.
“Parents are eager to give their kids an alternative activity to video games and television,” Vinbladh pointed out.
“Since we’re an indoor club, the children don’t suffer in Houston’s summer heat or miss a session because of bad weather.”
The camps and classes have generated an added bonus for the club. The GenY parents who witness their children having fun, making friends and exercising get the bug to learn the sport themselves.
The green ball method tailored for 10-and-under programs is a good way to introduce tennis to adult beginners as well as to children.
“We often start teaching beginner adults with the green ball, rather than with a regulation yellow tennis ball,” de Moura explained, “because the green ball is slower and easier to handle. As players improve, they will progress to using the yellow ball.”
“We’re proud of our program here,” de Moura said.
“We encourage families to participate in our sessions when they can. Our Saturday classes are specifically designed for parent and child, and we instruct the parents on how to work with their child on their own time.”