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What it takes to get your kid ready for tennis

Tennis is one of the world's most popular sports, and can be fun for everyone from weekend dabblers to uber-competitive youngsters and their parents.

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If you have an aspiring tennis star, summer is a great time to get going. But if you have dreams of seeing Chloe, Ava or Luis on center court at the US Open in Flushing Meadows, plan carefully.

Tracy Pickard, a Lansing, Michigan, mom shares a sense of what to expect. Her 11-year-old son, Beck, plays tennis several times a week and is attending camps this summer. "We are probably participating a little above a recreational level, money wise," Pickard says.

Here are some tips to manage the costs of getting your youngsters involved in the sport:

1. Gear up slowly

If your son or daughter is just trying out the sport, get a good basic racket that is right for their size, age and grip. You can always upgrade if they're still interested.

Basic tennis rackets cost about $20, and some rackets can go for $250, or more.

2. Find great, fun instructors

Track down a program and coach who focuses on basic technique, safety and making the sport fun, whether it's at the local park district or a private tennis club. It will take some time to know whether your child could be the next Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams.

Pickard has been pleased with the local coaching and teams they found for Beck.

3. Know when to get a real coach

Richard Williams coached daughters Serena and Venus in their early years. And, of course, the family's investment has paid off: The sisters have won a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles, including the US Open eight times. They helped introduce tennis to a new generation, and Serena is one of the world's most celebrated athletes.

Likewise, Reyana Abrahms Ewing is the primary coach for her three girls, ages 17, 16 and 13.

"We moved so many times that it was tough finding a consistent coach," says Ewing, who played competitive tennis when she was young. But her youngest is in it to win it, so she'll be moving to a tennis center in Lakewood, California, that has great coaches.

4. Don't overheat on high-end camps

The major summer tennis camps for kids—many at colleges—are a bigger investment, though there are programs at many different price points. Camps that provide lodging may cost as much as $1,800 a week, but many offer full and partial scholarships and some even have payment plans.

5. Realistically assess their skills

One of the best investments parents can make is to get a fair and honest skills assessment by a tennis professional, before they invest at a high level. Consider this money well spent, especially if your child is at the crossroads or you're trying to decide what's next.

6. Keep your perspective

"Our family's investment of $100 a week is beyond recreational, but moderate," says Pickard. And they're willing to pay more if Beck shows more interest and will stick with it.

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