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LOHS first in area to install new tennis lines to meet USTA youth standards

Lake Oswego High School has recently made some changes to a few of its tennis courts with the hope that they will help instill a love of tennis in children starting at a younger age.

The United State Tennis Association recently made just the third rule change in its history, changing the dimensions of the courts for players ages 10 and under for tournament play.

On its four lower courts, new lines, painted in a similar color scheme to the court's green background so as not to be distracting to adult players, have been added for nine and 10 year-olds, making the court 18 feet shorter and six feet more narrow.

The new tournament rules go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 and LOHS is the first location in Lake Oswego to add new lines.

Younger players will also used specially designed tennis balls which are lighter and do not bounce as high, making the game much easier for beginners.

"It's something they've been doing in Europe for a while now and the USTA has put a lot of money behind this," Lake Oswego tennis coach and head of Livewire Tennis Academy Brian Ruffner said.

To help pay for the new lines, Ruffner received a grant from the USTA.

"It's part of an initiative that (First Lady) Michelle Obama has really gotten behind that gets kids to have fun and play at a younger age and gets kids involved in more physical activity," Ruffner said.

This summer and fall, Ruffner will offer a league featuring practices during the week and matches on Saturdays for youth players.

"We're going to try and host a tournament in September with a team format where points scored go toward a team total instead of just one player beating another," Ruffner said.

Ruffner is excited about the new opportunities that the new lines will provide for players.

"Kids can get involved earlier and have more success now. In virtually every other sport, kids can start playing when they're really little but that hasn't really existed with tennis before," Ruffner said.

Interested individuals in tennis classes can currently sign up through Community Schools on its website www.losdcommunityschool.com.