The Junior Development Program at the Port Washington Tennis Academy consists of nine levels for juniors from 6-18 years old, as well as a special Trailblazers program for 4-6 year olds. Two sessions run from September-February and February-June. Classes are limited to four in a group for individualized attention.
The PWTA is a non-profit, charitable institution. Tuition is charged for those parents who can afford to pay. For children whose parents can not afford to pay, a scholarship program enables them to join the Academy. Contributions by friends of the Academy and by members of the founding family help the Academy to continue to pursue charitable opportunities that can be identified as beneficial to children.
Juniors Are No. 1 At the Academy
The PWTA is the only facility where juniors take precedence over adults. Junior programs start after school, as early as 1:00 p.m. and can go as late as 9:00 p.m. On weekends, classes and activities start as early as 8:00 a.m., running right through the day and into early evening.
Many school systems allow our advanced high school students to replace their gym period with the Academy's Gold Level Tournament Training Center. This lets them arrive at the Academy earlier in the day to take advantage of our specially formulated intensive training period.
Adults can take classes only when children are not using the courts. Needless to say, some adults complain that too much time is allocated for juniors, and not enough for adults, particularly on weekends. Nevertheless, the PWTA continues to run under the philosophy that:
Juniors are our most important asset.
Channeling A Student's Energies
An important aspect of our tennis teaching program is the underlying idea:
If we can hook kids on tennis, they will not get hooked on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes."
The theory works! By sparking children's interest in, and motivating them to like the game, they want to perform with their peers at the highest possible level. By their own choice, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are not a part of their lives.
Why Free Food & Beverages?
You will notice the conspicuous absence of coin-vending machines at the Academy. We believe every parent and child who enters the Academy should feel equal to his peers. If a parent is experiencing financial difficulty, it will not impact a child at our facility. In an effort to make everyone feel equal and welcome, food and beverages are available free to everyone, including visitors.
The "Making" Of A Champion
Some people think that the main thrust of the PWTA is to make champions. It is not. Our aim is to provide a healthy environment, and provide an activity which they can enjoy participating in for the rest of their lives. Tennis is a valuable tool that can increase their success scholastically, professionally, and emotionally.
The Academy has had a great many quality young people graduate from its program, including a number of champions. Our program and method of teaching helped them and gave them the opportunity to develop their "championship potential," but we did not "make" them champions.
We like to start working with children when they are physically and mentally ready, usually somewhere between their fourth and eighth birthday. As beginners, we want them not only to learn, but to love the game and to appreciate its lifelong benefits. At the same time we teach tennis, we teach good sportsmanship, honesty, self-control, and the ability to handle disappointments, all of which prepare our students for their future life.
Each pro is assigned a maximum of four players on a court. In addition, "supervisors" constantly observe the action on each court. Based on these observations, we change the composition of each group of players, at each level, when appropriate. The "mixing" of players is based on each player's strengths and weaknesses, to achieve a homogeneous group of players. This enables each player to achieve optimum performance and development. When a child shows a consistent inability to master a skill, he or she is given some extra attention to help correct that problem.
Outside competition is provided for the students. This is achieved by way of many tournaments that are played on Academy courts each year.
In-house tournaments are run for training purposes only. They enable Academy students to develop their tennis skills under various circumstances and pressures; it allows them exposure to different playing styles and enables students to be better prepared when they play in open competition.
No child is forced into a competitive situation. We know that competitive pressures can be harmful to some children. Tournament play is strictly optional.
When students reach their junior year in high school, we begin to counsel those who desire help in deciding which college is right for them. If they want to play on a college tennis team, we help them get into the best possible college where they can expect to make the team and actively play. Our advice takes into account the student's ability level, as compared to the team level of play at the college they are considering. If a student's parents can't afford college, we are often successful in arranging for a full or partial scholarship. A typical year can yield as many as 40 scholarships for the Academy's graduating class.