Grasshopper Tennis

A Hit at Waikanae School

By Peter Corlett
20th November 2012


Could any Waikanae School children be a future Tony Wilding or Kelly Evernden of NZ tennis?  Year 1 – 6 children at the school have been introduced to tennis through the Grasshopper tennis skills programme run at the school by Jamie Atkinson.

The games based programme, which supports the New Zealand Physical Education Curriculum was developed NZ Tennis coaches Stu Chalmers and Leslie Wilkinson, utilising elements of existing international programmes.

Atkinson  became interested in tennis at 8-9 years of age playing padder-tennis at Raumati Beach Primary School. He is a registered tennis coach of 16 years with NZ Tennis and runs the tennis programme in schools in the Wellington region.

Each of the Waikanae School classes had four sessions where they learnt a range of fundamental tennis skills, enabling them to play simple tennis games on the school courts.

“I learned a lot about playing tennis – I use to be really bad at it”, said Max McNeil, a Year 6 pupil, while his classmate Ryan Darton described the sessions as “challenging but fun”.

Children who completed the school sessions were awarded a certificate, and the school was donated tennis equipment so children can continue to play during playtime and lunchtimes.  The programme was so successful that it was decided to extend it to allow the Year 7 & 8 an opportunity to participate and to try out their skills, which will be happening in the next fortnight.

“The programme was well planned and the children really enjoyed it“, said Nancy Williams, the PE co-ordinator at Waikanae School.

When asked his advice for children who wanted to get into tennis, Aitkinson suggested getting in contact him (04-902 1249), with the local tennis club, or Reilly Smith via the link on the Grasshopper Tennis website