The YMCA Tennis Academy is back in operation following the passage of Hurricane Dorian back in September and tennis coach McArthur Rigby said the kids are, “strongly progressing.”
The programme focuses on girls and boys ages six to 11, with sessions taking place Monday-Thursday shortly after 3:00 p.m.
Rigby recently took notice of his pupils’ growth on the court during the FOCOL Junior Tennis Tournament, which was played last month – October 25-27. Presently, the programme has been in existence for two years, with 10 players competing in this year’s tournament, a milestone Rigby was proud to share.
“We’ve only been here for almost two years and to be able to enter 10 kids to play in the tournament, where I think they did well, was really something special,” Rigby expressed. “When we came here to build a programme, we wanted the Bahamian kids to have fun and enjoy tournaments and I thought it was a huge milestone for us.
“We would have had more entered, but the hurricane derailed that. However, when you look at the growth we’ve had in such a short time and the things they’re doing, it’s truly fascinating,” he added.
Rigby furthered that the tournament provided a stage for the juniors to show off their new found skills, while getting a taste of what fast-paced competition is like.
What impressed the certified instructor most has been the kids’ work ethic, so much so that it takes little effort to get the kids fully engaged during their practice sessions.
“To just sit here right now and watch them, where I don’t have to be instructing and watch them know what they are doing and watch them move around and have fun is amazing. The fact that they’re learning proves the point that kids can learn on their feet while they’re having fun.
“The growth in terms of their play and knowledge has been phenomenal. A lot of people were really astonished by how they played for the short time that they’ve been playing.”
The level one certified instructor revealed that Saturdays have now been dedicated to allowing the young players to compete in exhibition matches to further player development.
“Because of how much they’ve improved we’ve decided to do something really special for them. We have a Saturday morning now where we’ll just have them play matches all day and get the parents more involved.
“They need to be on the court more without the coach, I just need to be around watching and let them have fun on their own.”
The Y’s Executive Director, Karon Pinder-Johnson was ecstatic about the organization’s rapid improvement in the tennis arena and threw her confidence behind Rigby as he continues to seek avenues to expand the programme.
Rigby attended the ITF (International Tennis Federation) Caribbean Regional Coaches Clinic in Trinidad last year and became certified in the Play and Stay course (a beginner’s course taught to new players) this past March. He also received his level one certification to coach beginners and intermediate players through an ITF course sponsored by the Bahamas Olympic Committee this past August.
“We’re very pleased with what we’re seeing with our tennis academy under McArthur Rigby. I think it’s a step in the right direction, the kids are having fun and that’s very important to us. While having fun they’re learning all the new initiatives and tested programmes that Mr. Rigby would have already attended.
“I think it’s through those clinics and certification courses that he would have went through that he is bringing a wealth of knowledge and the kids are having lots and lots of fun and they’re moving.
“We’re very pleased and happy with what’s going on here at the YMCA’s tennis academy.”
Rigby closed by extending his gratitude toward Pinder-Johnson for her outright confidence in his coaching abilities.
“Every time I have to go to an educational programme she’s always supportive and it means a lot to me to have a boss like that. She knows the tennis programme will be better once I do so.
“It’s just so much information that you can pass on and watch the kids pick it up so quickly and enjoy themselves. It’s been a pleasure.”