At the end of the summer my 9 year old son, Sammy, and I started hitting more tennis balls. We would go out on the courts with a couple of hoppers of balls and drill strokes, approach shots, overheads etc. It was really fun and we were both noticing his improvement. With fall around the corner the various NYC tennis programs cranked up their marketing campaigns and started shopping their junior development programs. While we enrolled Sammy to have a group lesson one day a week, I started doing some math. These group lessons don’t come cheap and there are 4 or so kids on a court. There is a lot of tennis but some “fun” time and a lesson lasts about 90 minutes. So I tracked how many balls we were hitting in an hour out of curiosity. It was easy to do because a full hopper holds ~100 balls. Those who know me well can imagine the quick calculations that I was running in my head (cost per ball, etc.).
The result: I figured we were hitting about 400 – 450 balls per hour. Sammy would need to be in lessons more than 5 hours a week to hit that many strokes! With that in mind, we booked an early morning court and play every Sunday for 34 weeks. My goal – hit 15-16,000 tennis balls to my son. This is where the unexpected rewards came into play.
So far we have played 4 times. Every trip to tennis is 30 minutes of time alone to catch-up on school and life. Every trip home we can talk about our tennis experience. Our time together is both a lot of fun and seems to be helping Sammy hit better shots and really learn to love the game. While a weekly tennis court is certainly a big deal investment it is paying huge rewards – way more than I ever calculated. I only hope that Sammy is looking forward to next Sunday as much as I am.