Spec Tennis makes tennis more accessible
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – One man inadvertently invented a new sport, Spec Tennis, and now he’s bringing that sport to Lake Tahoe.
Nate Gross was teaching tennis in the Summer of 2016 when he started to think of easier ways for people to be introduced to tennis and to make the sport more accessible.
“It wasn’t my goal to create a new sport,” Gross said.
Around the same time, Gross saw that the popularity of Pickleball was on the rise and many tennis courts were being converted to or used as pickleball courts.
Gross decided to play tennis, using the same rules, on the smaller pickleball courts. He used a smaller, padded tennis racket and an orange dot tennis ball, which has 50% less pressure than a traditional tennis ball.
Thus, Spec Tennis was born.
“It takes away barriers to entry to tennis,” Gross said. “It uses the same swings and strategies but in a more favorable environment.”
The padded racket is nine inches shorter than a traditional tennis racket, so the center of the paddle is closer to the hand, giving users more control. The smaller court and less pressurized ball means beginning tennis players don’t have to spend as much time chasing an out of control ball around the court.
One of his goals with the new sport is to use it as a way to entice kids to pick up tennis.
“It’s hard to attract kids into tennis,” Gross said.
The court is big and the ball is hard to control, so taking away those obstacles is a much more palatable way for kids to be introduced to the sport.
While Gross began the sport as a way to introduce new players to tennis, he himself had fun playing and decided to organize a Spec Tennis tournament. Eight players signed up for the tournament and Gross said the competitors were having fun.
Gross stresses that while it can be a good entry into tennis, it doesn’t have to be.
“It’s just a good social sport,” Gross said.
It’s great for people of different skill levels to play together, people coming back from injuries or people who are older and can’t run around on the bigger courts to play. It can be played on any surface and easily be set up in a driveway for families to play together.
Although Gross didn’t intend to make a new sport, Spec Tennis has taken off in popularity. It’s now played in all 50 states and there are about 5,000 players.
In May, Gross moved to Stateline and became the Director of Racquet Sports at Clear Creek Tahoe. His goal now is to bring Spec Tennis to Lake Tahoe. He is currently teaching Intro to Spec Tennis classes at Kahle Community Center and is hoping to establish a Lake Tahoe Spec Tennis Club.
Equipment can be purchased at spectennis.com and Gross can be contacted at email@example.com if you’re interested in learning.
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