St. Charles Park District: From competitions to camaraderie, tennis serves up fun at Norris

Don’t let winter weather affect your mood because the fun is heating up on the tennis courts at the St. Charles Park District’s Norris Recreation Center. From lessons to tournaments, fun matches and even matchmaking, there are plenty of reasons to dust off the racket and get on the court.

If pizza sounds great, then what could be better than a few tennis volleys before grabbing a slice at Friday Night Lights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and March 18. The events feature the opportunity for those ages 18 and older to enjoy two hours of play, followed by pizza and soft drinks. The casual matches and social time are the best way to forge friendships on the court and beyond, said Bill Dahm, tennis pro supervisor at Norris. Dahm has been with the St. Charles Park District since 2005, watching novices take their first swings and helping the assistant pros lead programs.

Dahm grew up in Downers Grove and said he first held a racket when he was in middle school. It wasn’t long before he decided to leave his first love of baseball to pursue tennis, playing for his high school team.

“It’s a fun game and one you can play through your lifetime,” he said.

At the St. Charles Park District, lessons are available for children starting at age 4 with the Hots Shots program to help the youngest players learn the basics. Go beyond the program basics this winter with the Tennis Carnival from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, for players ages 10 and younger. The event features drills and activities in a playful setting and prizes, too.

Advanced younger players can gain competitive experience on the court with the debut of the Junior Norris Team Cup for players ages 11 to 18. The tournament will offer the opportunity for players to have two singles matches and one doubles match Saturday, Feb. 19. The program is open to all players, including those in the Tournament Training and Advanced Tournament Training programs.

To foster friendships and fun on the court, players ages 12 to 18 can register for Pizza & Play from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18. The Norris’ tennis pros will lead drills and games, and players can have fun and indulge in a slice of pizza, too.

Love isn’t just a word called out on the tennis court in February. Players 18 and older can register for a new special event, the Sweet Heart Mixer from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11. Put on something red or pink and get on the court for a round-robin tennis tournament and the chance to win door prizes.

If tennis sounds fun and it’s always been on your bucket list to learn or if you’re feeling rusty, the park district has programming for all ages. Dahm said one is never too old to pick up a racket and give the game a try. Each session, he meets players of all ages taking their first steps on the court and exploring the game.

“You don’t need to be afraid to try. Each session is about eight to 10 weeks and the ideas is you try, you learn and you meet one or two new friends,” Dahm said.

The St. Charles Park District offers lessons for all levels from beginners to those looking to hone their tournament skills, including private and semi-private lessons. Dahm said it really depends on one’s learning preference and style. Tennis programs provide the opportunity to meet others and make friends, while private and semi-private lessons can help someone learn the game and hone skills in a faster mode.

Advanced players can work on their game outside of a typical match with drills or try the new Cardio Tennis program to ramp up the workout. Dahm said Norris has a ball machine that can be rented when reserving court space to help gain extra practice on the court.