My son Trevor, 13, couldn’t stop talking about his first tennis lessons with City of Irvine tennis coach Alex Saint Jean.

We’re hitting the courts

by Peggy Cheng

I recently signed up the kids for tennis camp through the City of Irvine, upon another parent’s recommendation. I jumped at the opportunity to give the boys a much-needed break from their screens, let them try a new sport together in the same class and spend time with their friends. That decision opened my eyes to all the advantages of learning and playing tennis in Irvine and how good it was for my kids and family in so many ways.

An ideal new hobby

Once I stopped to think about it, I realized tennis is an ideal new hobby for us right now. Not only does it complement the skills required for my sons’ other sports, it also suits their individual and social interests as well. On top of that, if we ever need a reason to go explore, we could easily do that at one of Irvine’s 98 public tennis courts, which are at an impressive 21 locations across the city.

More than just tennis at camp

The kids’ unexpected chattiness on the ride home from tennis camp each day spoke volumes. Trevor, who feared he would be the oldest and worst player of the group, claimed to dominate his competition playing “King of the Court.” Peyton prided himself on keeping the game alive during “Jungle Ball.” Were we still talking about tennis? Their instructor, coach Alex Saint Jean, clearly charmed them with creative ways to teach fundamentals. In addition to being a Professional Tennis Registry (PTR)-certified professional, he built excitement for the sport in these beginners.

Irvine class tennis instructors

Still riding the tennis wave a week later, my curiosity brought me back to the City of Irvine tennis website for year-round group and private lessons. I skimmed through all the instructors’ bios and was impressed with their certifications and achievements. No matter where you live in Irvine, a quality instructor at a first-rate facility teaches nearby. Cypress Community Park was convenient for me, and the boys clearly connected with their camp coach, so I texted coach Alex to schedule a private lesson.

Peggy Cheng finds tennis is the perfect outdoor sport for her boys as they battle for “King of the Court.”

Private vs. group lessons

In their one-hour session, the boys benefited from the additional time and attention dedicated to skill development. Toggling between Trevor and Peyton gave each of them enough time to process and practice the coach’s suggestions without getting overwhelmed from too much information.
Coach Alex balances technique and constructive feedback with keeping his students’ interest levels high. Like the camp format, year-round group tennis lessons separate kids ages 5-16 into two groups of eight. Students can choose one-hour lessons as many times per week as they prefer.

Tennis love

Tennis through the City of Irvine was a great introduction to the sport for my kids. Thanks to an enthusiastic coach, we now have another activity to do as a family. Who knows? Maybe with practice they could even join our top-ranking Irvine high school tennis teams. Once again I was impressed with the emphasis on quality and safety. Even after living here 20 years, I relish finding new aspects of the city to fall in love with.