If you thought tennis was a game dominated by rich suburbanites,
better take a look at the results from this year's Nutmeg Games,
held in Hartford just this past week. Of the 21 medals awarded
in the statewide competition, Hartford kids won 11 of them (see
The youngsters are members of the Greater Hartford Youth Tennis
Association (GHYTA) which was recently named as the Top Grassroots
Tennis Program in New England. That honor earned a team of players
from the GHYTA a trip to the National Tennis Hall of Fame in
Newport, RI, to take on the Top Eastern Region Grassroots Team,
which was from New York City, last Tuesday, August 4 (see results
The grassroots award is given by the United States Tennis Association
(USTA) to the local program in a given region with the highest
number of USTA ranked players, said GHYTA Coach Carlos Aldave.
The GHYTA, which is an outgrowth of the Bulkeley High School
Tennis Club, currently has 15 ranked players, he added, probably
more than any other town in the greater Hartford area with the
exception of Simsbury.
Aldave said the GHYTA's success is due to providing them with
a year-round competitive environment and frequent play in USTA
regulated tournaments. He also said the success of some players
has inspired greater efforts by others. "They see a kid
from their neighborhood doing well and they think, If he can
do it, so can I," he said.
The GHYTA, which is sponsored by the Hartford Department of Recreation
and the USTA, currently serves about 70 city youngsters ages
6-18. Aldave said the group include kids from a wide variety
of ethnic backgrounds including Russian, Puerto Rican, South
American, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, Bosinian, Polish,
Ethiopian, Sudanese, Vietnamese and Cambodian.
The group practices at Goodwin Park during the warm weather months
and plays indoors at the East Hartford Racquet Club during the
winter. This summer, practice sessions for advanced players are
held at Goodwin on Monday and Wednesday evenings while clinics
for beginner and intermediate players are held at the park Monday
through Friday from 1:30-2:30 pm. The GHYTA also has a program
for Toddlers, which is held at Columbus Park.