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Dear Gary Sakuma,
In every child, the possibility of unlimited potential exist in us all, it is the guidance and support that we each receive that makes the beginning of learning the very core and essence in where the potential lies. The time-line to have a child start is completely dependent on several variables:
(1) Does the child show interest in the sport?
(2) The frequency in which you introduce the child to the game.
(3) How involved the parents and coach get "long-term-wise," and by making the it "fun" in the early years will increase the
childs desire to wanna learn.
(4) The coaching ability of the child and if he or she has any physical or mental barriers to over-come.
Many professoinal coaches will argue that the gage range is ever changing and varies from 3-5, however, in my opinion I think that this age range is quite young. I would assert that the good age of 6-8 would be a great place to start to see the athletic ability of a child. Nonetheless, the biggest aspect of tennis is the "mental," conditioning and education the child will have to learn and develop early on if he or she is going to have any long-term success. If you have additional questoins or comments, please let me know and I will get back to you immediately. Thank you Gary and be well.