Prior to my first TNT lesson, I had never swung a tennis racquet.
I’ve shuttled my four-year-old daughter’s racquet to and from the club since last September. She’s in the club’s Junior Development program, taking lessons from (Saint) Peggy Schuster, also known as “The Most Patient Pro on the Planet,” and loving every minute of it.
And I’ve moved my husband’s racquet out of the reach of my destruction-seeking two-year-old twins.
But despite my family’s interest in the game, and the club’s rich history (did you know that Midtown Founder Alan Schwartz helped develop the N.T.R.P rating system?), I resisted giving tennis a try.
I’m now a newly minted TNT Graduate.
My experience was so awesome that I’m wondering why I waited so long to give tennis a try.
The theme of TNT was evident from Day 1: Fun on the Court
The session began a few days before my first official class. TNT-ers met in the Adirondack Lodge and Ajay Pant, the club’s Director of Racquet Sports, gave my group of tennis newbies a little TNT history (110,000 graduates since 1972, carefully crafted and tested curriculum) and an idea of what to expect in the lessons themselves.
Here’s the rundown:
8:1 student-to-tennis-pro ratio
1 hour on the court, followed by a 30-minute off-court discussion session
2 Cardio Tennis parties (So, so fun. More on this later)
I was excited for my first class, but honestly, I had serious doubts about my ability to connect my racquet with the ball, much less learn how to play an actual game. I didn’t know tennis lingo. My sneakers were running shoes. My coordination leaves something to be desired.
But my fears were assuaged as soon as I arrived on court.
In a matter of minutes, I was swinging a racquet (wildly, and without regard for proper stroke technique) and actually hitting the large foam balls (slow, and easy to hit), before moving on to the intermediate orange balls (regular-sized, lighter, not much bounce) in Week Two, and finally the green transition ball (similar to a regulation tennis ball, only lighter) in Week Three.
I loved the fact that we were playing right away. Of course, I use the term “playing” loosely here, as very few of us knew the rules of the game, how to properly hold the racquet, or even how to hit a forehand or backhand shot. But no one got hurt (hurray for foam!), and we were all having a blast. My TNT classmates were supportive and encouraging, even when my awful shots brought our practice drills to a screeching halt.
The pros made the rounds and despite a large class were able to give each of us individualized attention to improve our skills. We played games and performed drills, and then one of the pros would call us in and give us pointers on how to improve our hitting.
This was the format used through the three-week session. On-court time was spent playing tennis, with a few short pro-lead breaks. We learned through hitting the ball, and not from listening to an instructional lesson.
Given the success of the TNT program, this is clearly the best way for people to learn the game.
One of my favorite parts of TNT was watching our club’s world-class pros hit against each other to demonstrate a serve, volley, lob or one of the many other shots we learned. They are incredibly inspiring, and have made me want to improve my game so I can crush them in a game sometime next week.
Or maybe the week after.
Following the on-court session, our class moved to the Paddle Hut, where Ajay (one of the pros teaching my class) gave us tips, technique help, and answered questions. He was also very interested in our feedback on the TNT curricuulum, which I thought was great. TNT is Midtown’s patented program, and the club wants to make sure it continues to work well.
Even the moose was captivated by Ajay.
Following Week 1, all TNT-ers are invited to the first of two Cardio Tennis parties. As a runner, these parties appealed to me because we were kept in constant motion as we ran (sometimes, literally!) through super-fun drills and games. Energizing music was playing, the pros were amped up and excited, and the session was fast-paced and action-packed. And afterward, we enjoyed some tasty appetizers, beer, wine, and house-brewed iced tea in the Paddle Hut. I can’t wait for the final one tonight.
TNT is over, and I am nowhere near a superstar tennis player. In fact, I’m willing to bet I found the lessons more challenging than most.
But I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to give tennis a try, and I had a blast learning a new sport. I’m pscyhed about the possibility of playing with my kids someday (and most likely, having them beat me). And I am excited about continuing to refine my game in TNT Graduate Class, which starts on July 5th and runs for 8 weeks.
Our club had 335 TNT participants over the two sessions. Were you one of them? What did you think of TNT?
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