Jackson Wark returns a drop shot against his sister Susannah during foam ball tennis at the SASCU rec centre auditorium last Monday. All five members of the Wark family have been playing foam ball tennis since it started in January.

Jackson Wark returns a drop shot against his sister Susannah during foam ball tennis at the SASCU rec centre auditorium last Monday. All five members of the Wark family have been playing foam ball tennis since it started in January.

Foam ball has many benefits

Playing foam ball tennis helps develop proper swing technique.

One of the most recognizable aspects of tennis is the unmistakable ‘pop’ sound heard when the racquet meets the ball in the sweet spot.

That ‘pop’ sound ceases to be heard on Monday evenings at the SASCU rec centre when 15 or so tennis enthusiasts get together to play foam ball tennis.

“It duplicates everything on the larger tennis court like stroke, strategy and exercise, and puts it on a more compact area,” says Dan Wark.

When asked why play foam ball tennis, Dan said, “Because it’s good  fun.”

Played with a dense foam ball, foam ball tennis is contested on a badminton court with shorter nets and smaller racquets.

The weight ratio between the ball and the racquet for normal tennis is maintained in the smaller game, which Susannah Wark stresses as important to perfecting her technique.

“The game really forces you to work on your fundamentals, which you need to rely on to be any good,” she explained.

For the past three and a half months Debbie, Dan, Jackson, Emily and Susannah Wark have been practicing and honing in the technical side of their tennis game.

Tennis for the Warks is a family affair; every member of the family plays either competitively or just for fun as members at the Salmon Arm Tennis Club.

Foam ball tennis was introduced to Salmon Arm in January by local tennis coach Doug Rawson, and has since become very popular with the local tennis community.

“We don’t have any winter tennis facilities in the Shuswap, so this is the best way to keep active in the sport during the off season,” says Dan.

Jackson claims the smaller court and foam ball have helped him develop his technique, and he his excited to take those skills onto the bigger court come spring.

“I started working on a new serve last season, and I couldn’t get it to work in normal tennis,” explains Jackson.

“I started practising the serve here with the foam balls and it works very well, I can’t wait to try it on the normal court.”

The Wark family unanimously agree the most important benefit of foam ball tennis is learning the mechanics of the perfect stroke.

“It’s very easy to hit the ball, because it’s so light and a little bigger.

You can hit it as hard as you want and it will pretty much stay in play,” says Jackson.

The game also allows players to work on their tennis strategy.

“The same method used here applies perfectly to the larger court, and it is easier to execute your strategy,” explains Dan.

Foam ball tennis is gaining popularity around the world and professional leagues have been established in the U.S. and Europe, where it is known as touchtennis.