AMHERST - Christophe Lambert carries a tennis racquet with him wherever he goes and never has a problem finding someone to play against him.
The tennis instructor from France joined 100 elementary students between Grades Primary and 3 at Spring Street Academy after school for their first lesson.
"I started playing tennis at the age of 10 and coaching others at 18 so I could pay for a tournament," Lambert said following the hour-long program Tuesday.
Having spent years teaching in France, England and China before moving to Halifax, Lambert said he wants to see more adults playing the sport.
"By starting them early, they have more of a chance to become a champion," Lambert said.
With Lambert's help, Mark White is bringing the progressive program into schools in the area and Spring Street Academy's Daren White thought it was a great idea.
"Tennis is one of the few sports in Canada that doesn't start at a young age," said Mark, as students were working on a drill with Lambert and Daren.
"It uses fine motor skills. With progressive tennis, it's a system that changes the size of the ball, racquet and court, depending on the age of the child. That way, the child can adapt. Some of these children, by springtime, will be completing full strokes."
It uses fine motor skills. With progressive tennis, it's a system that changes the size of the ball, racquet and court, depending on the age of the child. That way, the child can adapt. Some of these children, by springtime, will be completing full strokes. - Mark White, tennis instructor
As the child ages, Mark said the size of the equipment will also get bigger.
"But put a five-year-old in a full-sized court and it's too intimidating," said the director and head coach of the OTR Tennis Academy in Dieppe.
Lambert said he also wants children and adults to realize that tennis doesn't have to be just a spring or summer sport.
"There isn't an all-year program in Canada and there's no reason. France is the number one country for tennis in the world, without the best facilities."
Looking at the schedule outside the gymnasium, Daren said there are a number of activities after school for students in Grades 4 through 6.
"We never have programs for ages five, six or seven, so we thought this would be a great program," Daren said, noting the school may have to re-evaluate its numbers and go with a girls tennis instruction program and a boys tennis instruction program to split the numbers.