Mandan Parks and Rec offers tennis lessons to 3- and 4-year-olds

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Mandan Parks and Recreation is doing something new this summer.

Tennis lessons are now being offered to kids as young as 3 years old.

We stopped by the Mandan Middle School tennis courts to see what all the racket is about.

Tennis lessons are starting early for some. Mandan Parks and Rec wants to get young kids interested in the sport.

“We’re not too concerned with teaching proper strokes or proper instruction or things like that. We just want to give them a good environment and introduce them to the game in a good, healthy, enjoyable way,” said Erik Porter, summer tennis coordinator for Mandan Park District.

Jacey Wanner, a parent with a daughter enrolled in the class, says it teaches kids many things — not just tennis.

“It teaches them jumping and moving like an animal and being able to move their body and coordinate how they can swing and hit a ball. It’s all really important skills and is really tough for those 3- and 4-year-old’s,” said Wanner.

You might be wondering, how do you keep 3-year-old’s focused and interested in the game?

“I’ve learned that it’s a lot of times it’s best to go with what they already want to do. If you just give them a tool, or a toy they will think of something fun to do with it. You might have an initial idea, and the kids will kind of guide you from there,” said Porter.

So, how exactly do you start teaching the sport? Porter says you start small.

“We just do a lot where we’re just keeping the ball on the ground. Little by little, you know, we can start dropping it and hitting it, or clapping it in-between our hands, or throwing it or things like that,” said Porter.

“It’s a harder sport to learn, and so it takes time,” said Wanner.

Wanner says ultimately, it’s about getting kids outside and having fun.

“I’m really passionate about letting my kids do what they like to do. So, if they like to play tennis with me, we’ve been to the tennis courts before this. My daughter really liked it, and so I was like let’s try this. Let’s try this together. I’d like her to compete, but it’s OK if she doesn’t,” said Wanner.

We asked the tennis coordinator what he would say to parents who thinks 3 and 4 is too young to teach kids the sport.

“They’re absolutely right if it’s a super structured and like drill-sergeant approach. In this environment that we’re trying to create, I would say it would totally fine. Because we’re focused on fun, we’re focused on enjoyment, we’re focused on family,” said Porter.

Porter says classes have only been going on for a few weeks, but so far, they’ve been a success.

Mandan Parks and Rec plans to offer another round of sessions in July for 3-to-4 year-olds.

Porter says there is plenty of room for anyone who wants to sign up.

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