Tennis fever is building in Pāpāmoa as the coastal community prepares to host an ITF World Tennis Tour event this summer. And it is some of the youngest residents in town who get first serve.

Two lucky local primary schools have had a visit from Tennis New Zealand and EVES Real Estate and were gifted thousands of dollars worth of brand new tennis equipment.Enthusiastic young groms at Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School and Tahatai Coast School took off their jandals for 45 minutes and hit the court for free introductory skills sessions with top coach Peter Blow.

“It’s just good fun, everyone has fun, and that’s the key to tennis at this age – we learn through play,” Peter said.

The kids were rapt with the new Wilson tennis racquets, balls, and nets donated by EVES and Tennis New Zealand and they raced around the court in a blur of colour and noise, only stopping when Peter introduced a new activity.

“If the kids see tennis as fun and we just play games, then it’s really attractive,” he said.

“Attractive for parents and kids as well.”

Peter is head coach at Pāpāmoa Tennis Club and a high performance coach at Tennis Western Bay of Plenty.

He said the tennis community is “absolutely buzzing” about the EVES Open – World Tennis Tour: Tauranga, which will be held in Pāpāmoa in the lead up to Christmas.

“I think we are going to see massive numbers of the public come to watch,” Peter said.

“Some of the pros will work with kids in the neighbourhood too and maybe create some interest through that avenue, so we should be able to see good numbers coming through the clubs, kids that haven’t had any exposure to tennis as well. So it’s a win-win.”

The EVES Open will be held from December 18-24 at Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre in Gordon Spratt Reserve, Pāpāmoa.It is a professional event for men and women with official ATP and WTA world ranking points, as well as a total prize pool of US$40,000.

“We’re so excited to partner with EVES to bring the World Tennis Tour to Pāpāmoa this December,” Tennis New Zealand chief executive Julie Paterson said.

“The community support so far has been phenomenal and I have no doubt our Kiwi players will thrive off a big home crowd courtside. International sport in one of New Zealand’s iconic beachside holiday spots, just before Christmas – what’s not to love!" 

Vicki Semple, sponsorship and events manager at EVES, said the free coaching sessions and new equipment will hopefully pave the way for a few young locals to fall in love with tennis just in time for summer.

“We are all about supporting events and sport in our region and the EVES Open is an exciting opportunity for our community to host high quality international tennis,” she said.

“This is exactly the kind of sporting event that can capture the imagination of a future star.”

Sally Cooney-Acker, sports administrator at Tahatai Coast School, said her students had a lot of fun learning some ball and racket skills and improving their tennis.

“We are incredibly grateful for the donation of new tennis gear for our tamariki. It will be put to good use to get more children playing and having a go at tennis.”

Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School kaiako Jo Weldon said the school was feeling “extremely lucky” and that the new equipment would enable more tennis skills to be taught in school sessions.

“Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School is feeling very fortunate and will be producing many future tennis stars with our donated equipment,” she said.

“Students are eager to learn new skills and be outside while doing so and they are going to be very excited to use the new equipment to do this.”

The EVES Open – World Tennis Tour: Tauranga will be held from December 18-24 at Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre, Gordon Spratt Reserve, Pāpāmoa. Play will begin from 11am each day, with entry free to spectators. The event is also supported by TECT and Tauranga City Council.