Dallas native spearheads move toward kidfriendly tennis

First Posted: 8/26/2013

Through grants from the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), the USTA Middle States Section and the USTA Eastern Pennsylvania region, the area now boasts “state-of-the-art” kid-compatible tennis courts.

As the US Open gears up in New York City, tennis in the greater Wyoming Valley is poised to perhaps produce the next American champion through grants from the USTA national and regional organizations to make tennis public park facilities “kid compatible.” Just as other sports have adapted playing fields and equipment to younger athletes, tennis has made courts, racquets and balls more kid-friendly.

On Jan. 1, 2012, the rules of tennis in the United States and throughout the world changed to require all tennis competition as well as training for children ages 10 and under be played on smaller-sized courts with age-appropriate racquets and balls.

Through grants from the U.S Tennis Association (USTA), the USTA Middle States region, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Tennis District, public facilities in Back Mountain and Wilkes-Barre/Kingston are now ready to accommodate the new rule changes.

Blended lines were painted on traditional 78-foot courts, dividing them into 36- or 60-foot courts for multi-use by youths at Dallas High School and Kirby Park Tennis Center. The blended lines do not interfere with high school, collegiate and USTA sanctioned 78-foot league/tournament play, but allow young people to enjoy tennis on age-appropriate 36- and 60-foot courts.

In addition, Dallas Borough’s Kenneth Young Park received a facility upgrade for three 36-foot youth courts and one 60-foot court to make the borough’s basketball facilities multi-purpose for youth tennis activities. The borough also received an equipment grant from the USTA Middle States section to include tennis in its summer youth camp program.

The area’s public-park upgrade initiative was lead by Dallas native Laura Canfield, who was inducted into the USTA Middle States Tennis Hall of Fame in October 2012.

“A great many opportunities were open to me because of the available tennis facilities and programs in Dallas and at Kirby Park,” Canfield explained, “The Hall of Fame event itself is both a celebration of history/achievement as well as a fundraiser for the future – and the proceeds from the US Open fuel grassroots tennis throughout the country.

“The USTA Eastern Penn District, through its leadership of President Jack Monick and others, saw the benefit in using Hall of Fame proceeds as a ‘legacy’ program to invest in communities that developed a Hall of Fame inductee, a sort of “pay-it-forward” program,” Canfield added. “It was a pleasure working with people in the area to implement the facility upgrade opportunities – and we are finding in other communities that the adapted courts/and equipment has a big appeal to adults as well.”

Canfield credits Grant Palfey and Nancy Roberts from the Dallas School District and Tracey Carr and the Dallas Borough Council/Mayor for making these free upgrade opportunities a reality for the Wyoming Valley and especially Bill Eydler, director of Kirby Park tennis courts, for not only assisting with the upgrade of two courts at the Kirby, but whose company also painted the court lines at all three of the area sites.