A free tennis offering for Suffolk

Published 9:35 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Suffolk Parks and Recreation is giving the community the opportunity to come and play tennis this Saturday at the Howard Mast Tennis Complex on Holly Lawn Parkway behind Farm Fresh.

The free Howard Mast Tennis Day event will feature tennis tournaments, mini-clinics for those not skilled in the sport, skills drills, bounce houses, music and food.

Six-year-old Ashiya Bland takes lessons from Janice Henderson on Wednesday evening at the Howard Mast Tennis Complex. Henderson hopes that Saturday’s Howard Mast Tennis Day will attract many more interested players, young and old, to Suffolk’s tennis program.

Six-year-old Ashiya Bland takes lessons from Janice Henderson on Wednesday evening at the Howard Mast Tennis Complex. Henderson hopes that Saturday’s Howard Mast Tennis Day will attract many more interested players, young and old, to Suffolk’s tennis program.

Suffolk Parks and Recreations’ Janice Henderson has led the effort to make the first-time event a reality, and she explained whom the event is intended to draw.

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“It’s everyone,” she said. “Because tennis is a sport for all ages, our target audience is 4-99. If you’re capable of moving, we can teach you.”

The tournament will have a round robin format.

With the skills drills, participants will have opportunities to test their swings, including the groundstroke, overhead and serve. For instance, there will be a dunk tank requiring them to hit the ball in a target area to drop someone into the water.

Players will be awarded points based on matches won in the tournament or drills successfully completed. Those with the most points at the end of the day will receive trophies.

Henderson noted that an event like this can benefit a continuously growing Suffolk community by letting residents know of other avenues to get involved in sports.

She also cited the special health benefits that come with playing tennis.

“It’s unique because it gives you cardio as well as muscle-building, so you’re getting a two-for-one,” she said.

As both an experienced tennis player and a city employee, Henderson shared a particular vision on Wednesday evening that she would like to help realize through Saturday’s event.

“I’m hoping to grow the tennis program to where on the evenings such as this, you’d have to sit and wait for reservations” due to courts that are filled with avid players.

Healthy food will be provided on Saturday like subs, fruit and water, and a disc jockey will be present to provide the music.

Howard Mast Tennis Day will begin at 9 a.m. and run to 2 p.m. In the event of rain, it will be rescheduled to July 26.

Tournament participants can register in person at the Howard Mast Tennis Complex, the Suffolk Parks and Recreation administration office at 134 S. Sixth St. or at the event.

For more information or to register for the tourney, contact Janice Henderson at jhenderson@suffolkva.us or 514-7243, or Roberto Ramos at 514-7270 or rramos@suffolkva.us.