About Kids' Tennis

While the initiatives in various countries have differed significantly, they have shared a common approach.

The Strategy – a three stage approach

1. Ball and fitness – Introduce ball skills and tennis related fitness exercises and activities

2. Bat – Introduce mini tennis

3. Tennis - Introduce/reintroduce tennis as courts are refurbished and clubs established (eg in Timor-Leste).


There are many ball activities and games that kids can play individually and together to promote coordination, concentration, balance, fitness and general well being. Where there is a tennis court or hard surface these games can be a prelude and support to the introduction of mini tennis (see below). However where this is not possible the games can be used as a stand alone activity that a primary school teacher/sports teacher can incorporate into a PE curriculum. Some of the ball games can be introduced even to children of kindergarten age as part of the curriculum.


What is Mini Tennis? Mini Tennis is a portable game of tennis that can be played anywhere by two players as long as there is a flat surface to play on. Two portable stands (targets) with string stretched between them can form a net and the children, or adults, play with wooden bats (larger than a ping pong bat and smaller than a tennis racquet) that can be made from strong plywood, sealed and bought at a cost of several dollars. With used tennis balls this makes mini tennis accessible to children in all sorts of communities anywhere in the world. Mini tennis can be played in the mountains, or a form of beach tennis can be played by the sea. It can be played on a tennis court or a small piece of concrete or hard ground and is easily transported.

Mini tennis is also encouraged by the ITF as a route into tennis for young players. It allows kids to practice tennis strokes on a much smaller court area. Today, in Australia and some other countries, for instance a new game has emerged called “Beach Tennis”. In Sierra Leone for example, in more remote areas of the country such as Kono, (the fourth largest city and one of the most war affected areas- almost every building was damaged or destroyed during the civil war), a program of mini tennis was introduced in 2007 into the schools and supported by the local tennis club.


Some of the positives of tennis are that it offers both team and individual competition as well as social activity. As a social sport it can bring children and adults from different backgrounds and areas together and its code of conduct encourages children to behave with respect towards each other.

Young tennis players in countries like Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone have participated in training sessions to develop their strength, agility and hand, ball coordination. Where these skill sets are encouraged from an early age it helps those children who have access to a regional or district court to quickly adapt to the game of tennis. In Timor-Leste, for example, some of the children who participated in kids’ tennis activities, such as ball skills and fitness, have now become strong players able to compete at a young age and enjoy a social game with adult players as well as their peers. In such countries with a history of tennis, where there are large numbers of young people and high unemployment rates, sports such as tennis and its related activities have an important role to play in the community.

In Ethiopia a small pilot program was run under Hope for Children Australia. (www.hopeforchildren.org.au). South Sudan has also developed its own program (prior to further unrest) in association with Confident Children Out of Conflict (CCC). In Thailand, a demonstration activity was run in early 2011 in Phuket at the SOS centre for children by Lorenzo Marcuzzi.

Key People

Over the years the following people have played important roles supporting and/or developing kids’ tennis activities in their respective countries:

Amidu Dumbuya, Program Coordinator and Coach SLKT, Sierra Leone




Armindo da Costa, Program Coordinator and Coach TLKT, Timor-Leste




Meseret Tadege, Program Coordinator EKT, Ethiopia




Asseged Haileslassie Abadina, Coach EKT, Ethiopia





Sarah Johnston, International Advisor




Site last updated: March 2021