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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
Bob Harper became the face of fitness for the USTA’s new initiative to get children active and healthy.

Fitness expert and “Biggest Loser” star Bob Harper served up some fun for children at the US Open.

Harper played tennis with young players on Saturday, August 31, after helping the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announce a new coalition to get kids active and healthy through sports.

The tennis association is partnering with 20 national sports governing bodies, such as USA Volleyball and USA Fencing, and other programs, including first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative for the joint venture.

Experts at the press conference agreed that children want to have fun and play, but adults need to do more to give them the opportunity to be active.

“Play is the work of children,” said Dr. Alexis Covine, USTA chief medical officer. “The reason why they would is because it’s fun.”

The tennis association and the national governing bodies will come together in roundtables to discuss the right path to get kids active.

So far their three goals are to: “Make a positive impact on the development of all athletes regardless of ability or income; Elevate the status and expectations of everyone coaching our youth from parent volunteers to career coaches; To drive improvements within the youth sports structure as a whole.”

The USTA has made strides towards these goal by eliminating rankings from 10 and Under Tennis programs so young players can play to have fun and they have started to push for use of smaller courts, racquets and balls that bounce lower to make the game easier. Before, if kids wanted to get into tennis they would have to use the same courts as adults.

Following the press conference Harper took to the practice courts to play tennis with children.

“Being active doesn’t need to be something that’s an albatross around your neck,” Harper said. “It’s about fun, it’s about getting out there with these kids, making a few moves, getting a little sweat on, I think it’s important to show kids and adults being active is a good and healthy way of life.”

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