USPTA joins the fight against childhood obesity

August 20, 2010

HOUSTON — In support of the first National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the United States Professional Tennis Association joins the fight against childhood obesity through Tennis — for the health of it! The USPTA encourages children to play tennis because it is fun, easy exercise and encourages USPTA members to provide and promote tennis programs as part of a national effort to eradicate childhood obesity in the United States and ensure young people get a healthy start in life.

Through Tennis — for the health of it! (the USPTA’s health initiative launched in 2008), the USPTA tries to bring tennis to everyone and encourage people from children to senior citizens to get fit through tennis. The main goals of the initiative are to make the general public aware of the tremendous health, fitness and psychological benefits of tennis and encourage people to get out and play the sport as a part of their regular fitness regimen. In addition, the USPTA and its members are the delivery force through which the public can receive these benefits through lessons, other tennis activities and programs such as Little Tennis, Tennis Across America and Junior Circuit.

Little Tennis — Little Tennis is designed to teach children ages three to 10 the proper warm-up, motor, racquet and playing skills needed to build a solid foundation for the game. Little Tennis has numerous games and drills, 10 full lesson plans for all age groups, significant parental involvement and is a great transition to the QuickStart Tennis Play Format.

Tennis Across America — Established in 1990, Tennis Across America was the first sports marketing initiative in the tennis industry. TAA’s goal is to get new, current and former players involved in tennis and in a healthy environment. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 teaching professionals participate each year in offering free grassroots lessons to promote their tennis programs in a healthy environment.

Junior Circuit — The Junior Circuit is designed for novice players. USPTA pros run these unsanctioned tournaments throughout the country. These are ideal starter events for players who have graduated to full-size equipment (racquets, balls and courts). These tournaments allow juniors to start competitive play in a low-pressure environment, are convenient because they are generally held in the junior’s hometown, use alternate scoring systems, therefore making them user-friendly and give juniors a pathway to improve and advance to sanctioned tournaments. To find out more information about these programs or to find a USPTA-certified tennis professional in your area visit

Earlier this year, Congress unanimously passed a resolution designating September 2010 as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. During the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than fourfold among children ages six to 11. More than 23 million children and teenagers (31.8 percent) ages two to 19 are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic. To find out more information regarding childhood obesity, visit

“With a strong delivery system of more than 15,000 certified tennis-teaching professionals, we feel that we can definitely help raise awareness of the epidemic of childhood obesity,” said Jack Groppel, Ph.D., USPTA Master Professional and vice president, and co-founder of Human Performance Institute. “However, more importantly, our mission is to ultimately drive action from this awareness and get children active and healthy through tennis.”

Obese young people have an 80 percent chance of becoming obese adults and are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults. As a result, they are more at risk for associated adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

The financial implications add up to a sobering $14 billion per year in direct healthcare costs alone. Americans spend approximately 9 percent of their total medical costs on obesity-related illnesses. Additionally, there are psychosocial consequences that can hinder academic and social functioning and persist into adulthood.

Founded in 1927, USPTA strives to raise the standards of the tennis profession while promoting greater awareness of the sport. USPTA offers more than 60 professional benefits to its more than 15,000 members worldwide, including certification and professional development. With more than 300 days of education annually and extensive online opportunities, USPTA offers the most comprehensive education program in the tennis industry. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit For Tennis — for the health of it! visit