Tennis is a growing sport in Groveport

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Rhianon Brady returns a serve during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session at Degenhart Park in Groveport.
Rhianon Brady returns a serve during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session at Degenhart Park in Groveport.

The Groveport Tennis Academy is looking to broaden a love of tennis in the community.

“We offer a quality tennis program for all ages and ability levels for people who might not be able to join a country club or racquet club,” said Christopher Brown-Borden, director of tennis for the Groveport Tennis Academy, which formed in 2010 and is affiliated with the Groveport Recreation Center and the U.S. Tennis Association. “I want a program that has a spot for anyone who wants to play regardless of age, gender, or experience, who might never pick up the game because tennis lessons are normally too expensive.”

The Groveport Tennis Academy holds three

Andrew Mackley returns a volley at the net during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.
Andrew Mackley returns a volley at the net during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.

sessions per year: a spring session from April-May; a summer session from June-July; and fall session from September-October. Brown-Borden estimates there are between 60 to 75 players  each session.

“I have kids as young as age 3 all the way to adults who played tennis 20 years ago and want to get back into it again,” said Brown-Borden.

Practices are held at Groveport’s Degenhart Park and Reynoldsburg High School Summit’s Campus.

“I have multiple junior teams based on age divisions who compete throughout the summer months,” said Brown-Borden. “We compete against various clubs and teams around Columbus such as New Albany Tennis Center, Scarborough, Elysium, Pickerington, Reynoldsburg, New Albany Country Club, and Swim and Racquet Club. We’ve also played Racquet Club, Wedgewood, Wickertree, and Canal Winchester.”

Coach Christopher Brown-Borden during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.
Coach Christopher Brown-Borden during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.

Brown-Borden said normally his teams finish somewhere in the middle of all the teams. However, this is the first year USTA has divided into two different divisions. There is a championship league and a non-championship league.

“The easiest way to explain it is there is now a varsity and junior varsity division,” said Brown-Borden. “My tennis academy has a hard time competing with racquet clubs for two reasons. First, we don’t have access to year round play since there is no indoor facility for us to use. Second, many of my players start playing after age 10. Many kids are beginning sports earlier, so it’s difficult for my 14-year-olds to compete with other 14-year-olds who’ve been playing since age 4. I entered my teams this year into the non-championship division. By dividing into two different divisions, my kids are much more competitive this year because they’re playing against other kids who are closer to their ability. My age 14 team is still in the middle of the pack; however, my age 18 team is in second place right now.”

Brown-Borden said tennis is a good lifelong sport.

Amy Bratton returns a serve during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.
Amy Bratton returns a serve during a Groveport Tennis Academy practice session.

“It’s a great sport with regards to getting or staying in shape,” he said. “Unlike other sports, there isn’t a huge financial commitment. When you’re playing tennis, you are involved in every point, you don’t have to wait for your turn to be involved in the action. It is a sport that builds character because you learn sportsmanship and how to handle winning and losing. It is a sport you can play forever. Many of my friends who played other sports in high school and college are no longer involved with those sports, and if they are, it’s only in a coaching capacity. At age 40, I have the opportunity to still play competitive tennis, and Columbus has a division for adults 65 and older to play competitive tennis called the Platinum League.”

He said both kids and adults are responding well to his tennis program.

“When one session finishes, many people sign up for the next session,” said Brown-Borden. “Also, each year my tennis academy seems to keep getting larger because I pick up people from word of mouth, so I think people are happy. Some individuals have shared stories that, before playing tennis, their son or daughter hadn’t really found anything they liked or were good at with regards to sports. Tennis has opened up a new opportunity for their children regarding athletics. Other parents have shared stories that their children didn’t have many friends prior to picking up tennis and now they are more social and have friends they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Groveport City Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert would like to see more tennis courts in the city of Groveport.

“Degenhart Park has three tennis courts, but you need five for team matches,” said Hilbert. “Tennis is a lifelong sport all ages can play. Our citizens need and want more tennis courts. It’s also something I think kids deserve to have as evidenced by our very active Groveport Tennis Academy. More courts would also allow not only for more league play, but for more purely recreational play.”

Hilbert said there is a spot in Groveport Park that could accommodate six tennis courts, but she thinks the location in the north part of the park is too far from amenities such as restrooms. She believes a better idea is to add two more courts to the courts at Degenhart Park.

“Degenhart Park is a lovely setting,” said Hilbert. “I’ve played tennis there with people from places like the Scioto Country Club and Medallion and they say  Degenhart Park is a wonderful venue for tennis.”

Hilbert plans to bring up the idea for additional tennis courts in Groveport when city officials discuss future projects during this fall’s budget discussions.

Email groveporttennis@hotmail.com or visit www.groveportrec.com for information about the Groveport Tennis Academy.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I can testify that this is a great program. Both of my girls have participated for several years and can’t wait to show off their skills at the high school level!

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