OKC Tennis Center Gives Youth Access to Lifelong Sport

Tucked away at Will Rogers Park in Oklahoma City, youth of all ages are learning the game of tennis at one of the nation’s premier facilities.

The OKC Tennis Center is the largest tennis center in the 10-state region and won Outstanding Tennis Facility of the Year in 2016. Built in 1969, the OKC Tennis Center boasts 24 outdoor courts, six indoor courts and six youth courts. It plays host to numerous tournaments, both nationally and regionally, as well as a vibrant adult league, summer camps and private lessons.

But for Steve Henry, director of recreational programming, getting tennis rackets into the hands of kids is his goal.

“Growing the sport of tennis and getting kids to pick up rackets is a personal mission of mine,” Steve says. “Tennis is a great way to get physical activity. Tennis is one of the sports where you use your whole body, so it’s a workout. But it’s fun, so you don’t realize it’s a workout.”

Moreover, the sport of tennis gives children more than just a way to move. It teaches them life skills like sportsmanship, how to win well and lose well and how to develop dedication, he says.

“Sportsmanship is a big part of tennis. Your integrity and honor are taught as part of the game,” he says. “Studies also show that tennis players live longer.”

At the OKC Tennis Center, three major youth programs are offered. The Junior Academy is for ages 5 to 12 and is aimed at the serious player who wants to compete or play on through college.

The Basic Summer Camp is geared for ages 5 to 12 and teaches the basics of tennis. The camp, which runs for six weeks in the summer, is best for beginners or low-intermediate players.

Another program called First Serve, overseen by the National Junior Tennis and Learning, is a charter program that serves primarily underserved youth. A yearlong program, First Serve teaches not only tennis but life skills and mentoring as well.

“Our youth programs are very popular. In June, we had 125 kids here in three different programs,” Steve says. “It’s just a great sport for kids to get into.”

For more information, visit OKCTennisCenter.net or call 405.946.2739.