Crawl before you walk. Walk before you run. That’s the logic behind the USTA’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative. Rather than put a youngster on a regulation-sized court, with a regulation-sized net, trying to hit a regulation-sized ball, kids would be more apt to thrive and enjoy the game if they started on a smaller court with more user-friendly equipment. It works for other sports. Baseball’s neophytes start out with Tee Ball and Little League before competing on a regulation diamond.
Not everyone, however, has been overwhelmed by the 10 and Under program. Wayne Bryan famously wrote a lengthy, mostly scathing letter to a friend at the USTA last year calling into question some of the program’s principles. It made the rounds on the web, even prompting Patrick McEnroe to offer a rebuttal. One of Bryan’s gripes had to do with many of the program’s sanctioned multicolored balls, which he believed young players found stigmatizing.
Whether it’s a response to Bryan’s claims (doubtful) or simple evolution, GAMMA has updated its Stage 1 and Stage 2 USTA-approved 10 and Under balls to look more like standard tennis balls. Only a small colored dot distinguishes it from a typical tennis ball. The GAMMA 60 Orange Dot is 50 percent slower than a regulation ball, and is designed to be used by 10-and-Under players and adult beginners on a 60-foot court. Once a player graduates from that level, they can practice with the GAMMA 78 Green Dot, which is 25 percent slower than a standard ball and intended to be used on a 78-foot court.
Anyone interested in purchasing for a child or beginner’s program can find authorized resellers on the web. Here’s the pricing for both Orange and Green Dot balls:
3-Ball Can (12 Can Case): $47.40
12-Ball Bag: $14.95
48-Ball Bucket: $55.95
60-Ball Bag: $66.95