Over the past several years there has been a strong growth in the sport of tennis in DeSoto County and Northwest Mississippi.
The growing interest has happened for a number of reasons, primarily the active support of the Northwest Mississippi Tennis Association (NMTA), which was formed as the DeSoto County Tennis Association in 2005.
Today, the nonprofit volunteer organization supporting tennis in DeSoto, Tate, and Tunica counties was tabbed as the Mississippi Tennis Association Community Tennis Association of the Year. Its 725 members are all members of the United States Tennis Association, or USTA. It is the fastest growing group of its type over the past five years.
Eddie Reed, representing the NMTA, points to the number of local teaching professionals and the addition of the Southaven Tennis Complex courts at Snowden Grove Park in Southaven as the impetus for the “net success” of tennis in northwest Mississippi.
There are several programs to develop tennis skills that are offered through the NMTA. They include cardio tennis classes, a monthly adult mixer, and a Tennis Apprentice program that Reed considers the most successful adult tennis program in the South.
“It’s our big driver of new tennis growth, especially for adults, is the Tennis Apprentice,” said Reed. “That is a learn how to play tennis program. We had one beginner women’s team in 2018 at Snowden Grove and this year we have four.”
Reed credits the addition of Michael Johnson as Director of Tennis for the City of Southaven as a driver of the sport in the area.
Other incentives include young players age 10 and under receiving their first year membership in the USTA free of charge. That incentive put the NMTA second in the nation in the past year for 10-and-under memberships.
NMTA supports three junior development programs a year and two junior team tennis leagues a year. There are doubles leagues and mixers for kids.
During the winter, the programs are moved from Snowden Grove to the Tunica National indoor courts to allow the programs to operate all year long.
While growing, the NMTA can boast a boys’ 12-and-under tennis team winning a state championship and a 7.0 Mixed Doubles team from Southaven becoming USTA national champions last year in Orlando, Florida.
The local association has also donated $1,000 to the City of Hernando to help resurface the Conger Park tennis courts, $2,100 to Snowden Grove Tennis Complex to buy eight new nets, net straps and sweep rollers, and purchased balls for the Winter Junior singles tournament in Tunica.
The Snowden Grove facility has attracted college tennis teams to come and hold their meets there. Last summer, the Spell Restaurant Group USTA $25,000 Men’s Tournament event took place with Dominican-American Roberto Cid Subervi coming away with the first-place trophy and about $2,000 in prize money. It will return to Snowden Grove this summer and will be played in night sessions to avoid the heat.
“Tennis is very affordable and public courts are free to play on,” Reed said. “Group lessons and clinic are very affordable. It’s fun, it’s a group activity for all different skill levels.”
To learn more the Northwest Mississippi Tennis Association, contact Reed email@example.com or follow Northwest Mississippi Tennis Association on Facebook.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.