The inaugural SCTA Tennis Jam kicked off at El Dorado Tennis Center in Long Beach on Veteran’s Day, welcoming more than 300 tennis enthusiasts for a full afternoon of activities that included demonstration courts featuring the biggest names in tennis, and a tribute to Long Beach veterans.
Touted as “a festival of tennis for all ages,” Tennis Jam was a hit for both children and adults alike. On four “Kids Zone” courts, youngsters engaged in everything from station-to-station drills to fun face painting, while adults played live ball and tried their best to “beat the pro” on the spotlight show court.
Min Xie, an SCTA Sectionals competitor who joined his two children at the event, was watching his son Allan, 6, playing doubles in the Kids Zone. “This has gotten him very motivated,” Min said, noting that his son was very shy when he first approached the court. “Now he won’t stop playing.”
Ten-year old Miles, a fifth grader from Carson, is new to tennis and plays in an after school program one day a week. At Tennis Jam, Miles took some big swings under the watchful eye of his father, Michael. “Normally, he’d be ready to go in and play video games,” Michael said of his son, who benefits from the constant action and engagement that comes with tennis. “But he’s still out here, no lunch or anything!”
While many participants registered for Tennis Jam based on advertising and word of mouth, some guests simply stumbled upon the event. Seven-year old Justice – an admitted ballplayer whose swing resembled Mike Trout more than Roger Federer – and his sister Glory, both of Long Beach, were visiting a nearby library when they came upon the festival of tennis at El Dorado.
Others, like USTA Net Generation ambassadors Kayden and Ashlyn Roxas of Torrance, were Tennis Jam headliners all day long. The sisters are both official ambassadors of Net Generation, the USTA’s youth tennis brand, with 10-year old Ashlyn following in the footsteps of her older sister, Kayden. “When Kayden became a Net Generation ambassador, it was really cool for the family,” mom Sandy recalls. “So Ashlyn worked really hard to become an ambassador, too. When they chose her, we were all so proud. Kayden takes it very seriously. And Ashlyn, she just smiles all day.”
Among the highlights at Tennis Jam were the demonstration courts hosted by Wilson, Head Penn, Babolat, and Yonex. Many exhibited their latest line of equipment and attire, and the most modern racquets on the market today.
Carrie Cimino, a representative of Head Penn, was pleased to see such a big turnout. “We’ve met a wide range of people from all over Southern California,” she said. “People from Culver City, Santa Monica, Long Beach. All over.”
The SCTA Foundation, charitable arm of the Southern California Tennis Association, also honored Long Beach area servicemen and women on Veteran’s Day with a check presentation on center court. The funds will be used to enhance recreation and rehabilitation for veterans in the Long Beach area, including renovating a basketball court as a multi-purpose basketball/tennis facility.
John Tyler, Chief of Volunteer Services, accepted the donation on behalf of the Long Beach VA, saying, “”Getting our veterans engaged physically and mentally is paramount to their health. That’s one main reason we have recreational therapy and opportunities that are offered at our facilities as well as out in the community.”
“Tennis Jam was a huge success, a great afternoon showcasing tennis and the SCTA ” said Linda Milan, Executive Director of the SCTA, “It was planned as an event to give back to the tennis community, and it was exciting to see so many people out here enjoying the day.”