NorthBay Tourney Welcomes Children

Even the youngest of fans can get into the game at the upcoming NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship tennis tournament.

Children ages 7 to 10 will have the opportunity to try the U.S. Tennis Association's Net Generation program during the October tournament at Solano Community College. The pro tennis event will be held Oct. 6-14, and the USTA's "Net Gen" program will be featured in the late afternoon on Kids Day, Friday, Oct. 12.

The mission of Net Gen is to introduce children to tennis, a sport they can play the rest of their lives. Racquets, balls and pop-up nets are all provided.

Children will play with equipment that fits their size and age and they'll get to meet and ask questions of a few players in the pro tournament. The goal of the USTA is to build its community involvement and grow the future of tennis through the "next generation."

"They get introduced to a sport that they may not otherwise play unless they are members of a club," explained Troy Rondeau, the youth tennis specialist with the USTA's NorCal chapter. "They get to be outside participating in a great activity."

Troy and Solano College tennis coach Rafael Rovira have already introduced many students to the Net Gen program by reaching out to schools in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. Many of the schools were given $1,000 Net Gen packages featuring racquets, balls and popup nets for use in their own physical education classes.

"The USTA is using our Challenger tournament, along with others, to showcase this activity and show how NorCal is involved in its communities," Rovira said. "The kids will be able to participate and then sit with their parents and watch the matches. Some will be selected to take the court on Friday and Sunday during the finals and be coin flippers or walk the players out onto the court."

The Net Gen program is limited to 50-60 participants. For more information, contact Rafael at (707) 246-0990, or via email to Rafael.rovira@Solano.edu.

The $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship is part of the Association of Tennis Professionals' Challenger series and features many of the top up-and-coming players from around the world. There will be 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams competing after the opening qualifying tournament.

The tournament will again benefit the Chris Cammisa Tennis and Education Foundation, which provides tennis and a related educational program to underserved youth in Solano County. Its work has also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the men's and women's tennis programs at Solano College.

The NorthBay tournament is the final leg of the men's worldwide Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger Tour's swing through Northern California

Tickets for the nine-day tournament will go on sale once the schedule is finalized. All seating is in close proximity to the courts. There are also numerous opportunities to be a tournament sponsor, volunteer, and for youth as "Ball Kids," during the matches.

For information, visit www.FairfieldProTennis.com; contact tournament director Phil Cello at (707) 853-0915; or via email at Cellotennis@Comcast.net.