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Mini tennis provides children with the perfect opportunity to learn the fundamentals of tennis at an early age. Designed for children aged between 4 and 10, mini tennis utilises smaller courts, nets and rackets as well as lower-bouncing tennis balls to develop vital tennis skills and techniques.
‘Short tennis’ (launched in 1985) predated mini tennis and was played with plastic rackets and sponge balls but the game was given an update in March 2001 to the version of mini tennis that is played today.
The game is split out into three levels with the LTA stating that at each stage there are key aims and goals. The stages and goals for each level of mini tennis are:
Every age group uses different colour tennis balls that each perform differently to suit the age group that uses them. Red, orange and green mini tennis balls all have different ball compressions which impacts how high each ball bounces. Mini red tennis balls don’t bounce very high which makes it easier for younger children to control their shots whereas mini green tennis balls bounce higher and aren’t hugely dissimilar to the yellow balls used in senior tennis. Mini orange tennis balls sit somewhere in the middle of red and green tennis balls.
The mini tennis court dimensions will also vary depending on the age of the child. Younger players play on smaller mini tennis courts, whilst 10-year olds play on full size courts. The mini tennis scoring systems also change from one mini tennis stage to the next.
Below, we go into detail about each of the mini tennis stages, outlining the court size, net height, racket size and ball that should be used by each age group.
Mini red tennis is ‘stage 3’ of mini tennis and is the perfect starting point for children aged 4-8. Played on a small tennis court with a soft ball that has a low bounce, it provides the perfect opportunity for young players to learn the basics and have fun! The shorter rackets used help players develop different types of shots and work on their hand-eye coordination.
As you might expect, a red (and yellow) tennis ball is used for mini red tennis. Mini red tennis balls are around 75mm in diameter which is larger than a regular tennis ball, making them easier for young players to hit. The foam/felt balls travel 75% slower than regular balls and have a lower bounce.
A shorter racket of 43cm-53cm (17”-21”) is recommended to make it easier for kids to control their shots.
The recommended mini red tennis court size is 11m x 5.5m meaning badminton court lines can be used to mark out the court.
Red mini tennis nets are lower than yellow ball tennis nets at 80cm high (in the middle).
Mini orange tennis is ‘stage 2’ of mini tennis and is designed to allow players to continue their progress of the game. Emphasis is placed on developing players’ all-round game, building on the technique and tactics they learned during stage 3. The tennis courts and rackets are bigger and the mini orange tennis balls are not as soft as the red balls, resulting in more bounce.
Mini orange tennis balls are firmer than red tennis balls used in stage 3 but are still 50% softer than regular balls. They are also 50% slower through the air than standard tennis balls to provide optimal performance for the court size and age of players. The balls are typically between 60mm-68mm in diameter.
Orange mini tennis rackets are between 58cm- 63cm (23″-25″).
Singles games are played on a 18m x 6.5m court whilst doubles mini orange tennis courts should be 18m x 8.23m (the full width of a standard singles court).
As with red tennis, mini orange tennis nets should ideally be 80cm high (in the middle) although they can be up to 91cm high.
Mini orange tennis matches are usually played as best of three tiebreaks (seven points) or as one short set (first to four games).
With mini green tennis (stage 1) young players take the step up to full size tennis courts for the first time. As you’d expect, with the step up comes bigger rackets and balls that have more bounce. The time 10-year olds spend playing on full size courts using mini green tennis balls provides invaluable experience ahead of moving on to playing with regular fluro yellow tennis balls the following year.
Just as the orange tennis ball was a step up from the red, mini green tennis balls are a step up from the orange balls. Green balls are only 25% slower through the air than regular balls and are typically the same size as standard tennis balls.
Mini green tennis rackets are usually 63cm-66cm (25”-26”).
Stage 1 tennis is played on full size courts for both singles and doubles.
With mini green tennis being played on full size courts, matches and training sessions use full height nets. These nets are 91cm high (36”).
Mini green tennis matches are two short sets (four game sets) with a match tiebreak played to 10 points if each player wins a set.
At Net World Sports we have a great range of mini tennis equipment. From rackets and balls to nets and mini tennis sets, we have everything you need to get started.