NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | St Paul’s Urban Tennis Program Scores Big in St. Anthony Park


What’s so great about tennis? It can be a hard sell among families who grew up playing football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. But St. Paul has a growing tradition of kids who are learning to sprint quickly, hit consistently and aim precisely– with a racket in hand, thanks to the St. Paul Urban Tennis (SPUT) program.

St. Anthony Park has been a SPUT site for a number of years—long enough to see former students become instructors in the program. Because of its growing popularity, the program has expanded from its original program at Langford Park to include College Park and, new this year, South St. Anthony Park.

SPUT began in 1991 as an off-shoot of the InnerCity Tennis program in Minnepolis. The first three sites in St. Paul, the Bucky Olson Courts at Saint Paul Central and courts at El Rio Vista and Dayton’s Bluff, were chosen so that youth in areas of low-income housing would get the chance to learn tennis. Since that first summer, the number of SPUT participants has grown from 125 to over 5000.

When Ernie Greene, a longtime tennis pro and mentor in St. Paul, joined the program his philosophy about life skills became part of the SPUT curriculum. He integrated lessons on forehand and footwork with those on taking care of your body, avoiding drugs and alcohol, excelling in school and, above all, being a good citizen.

For more information about SPUT and to register, go to

Classes begin Monday, June 20 and run for six weeks. Cost is $75 and no child will be turned away because of an inability to pay.

Classes are held Monday – Friday

All tennis classes are one hour in duration–age groups as follows:

8:15 – 9:00 a.m.        – 5 & 6 yrs.

9:00 – 9:55 a.m.        – 7 & 8 yrs

10:00 – 10:55 a.m.      – 9 & 10 yrs.

11:00 – 11:55 a.m.      – 11 & 12 yrs.

12:00 – 12:55 p.m.      – 13 & up (beginner & intermediate)

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