Tennis Prodigy Not Old Enough for Kindergarten

Filed under: In The News, Amazing Kids

A Tennis racket leaning up against a net.It's no secret I don't care for organized sports, especially for kids. I believe they cause far too much stress, encourage an unhealthy emphasis on winning and create over-inflated egos -- and that's just the parents. Kids stand to lose much more, including their childhood. Take, for example, four-year-old Mia Lines from Wantirna South in Australia.

The girl is not old enough for American kindergarten and yet she is here in this country training with renowned tennis coach Rick Macci. Venus and Serena Williams are among those Macci has coached. The Williams sisters, however, are grown-ups.

What is a four-year-old doing traveling halfway around the globe for tennis lessons? "When I found out my child was going to be a girl I ran round telling everyone that she is going to be a tennis player," says her father, Glenn. "I have always been a tennis fan so I knew of Rick Macci. As she progressed year on year I wondered whether I had a special child, so I got in contact with Rick."

This is actually Mia's second session with Macci. He agrees that the girl has potential. "Mia's technique is incredible and what she is doing is bringing foot-work you can't teach to the table," he said. Having started with a tennis racket when she was but one, it is perhaps no surprise that she is talented. Macci notes that "my opinion is that she cannot be any better than she is at this age." But what of the poor girl's childhood?

Is four years old too young to turn pro?
Absolutely -- she hasn't had time to enjoy being a kid330 (55.4%)
Probably -- but there are always special cases141 (23.7%)
Probably not -- if she's not good enough, now's the time to find out47 (7.9%)
Definitely not -- She should make the most of her gift78 (13.1%)

Mia's dad claims it's really up to Mia as to whether or not she wants to play tennis. "If she is good enough and she wants to do it then that is up to her," he says. "She drives the bus." The girl is only four, though. How can anyone tell if she really wants to play tennis or just wants to please her father? How does she know if she wants to try something else when she's had a tennis racket in her hand since she was one?

I'm all for kids playing games. But I do have a problem with turning babies into miniature grown-ups.

Is this girl too young to be working with a professional coach or is she taking advantage of her natural talent?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.