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Tennis might soon be a popular sport again in New Milford.

If a couple of longtime residents have their way, it surely will happen.

Those advocates are former New Milford High School girls' tennis coach Virginia Payne, for many years a coach with New Milford Parks & Recreation programs, and Karen Ford, arguably the best female player ever at NMHS and now a representative of the United States Tennis Association.

Those women combined April 16 with Parks & Recreation to host a USTA-sanctioned Quick Start clinic for prospective tennis coaches and some players at the Young's Field tennis courts.

The two courts, now named in memory of Rebecca Payne, Ms. Payne's daughter who died in 2008 in Boston, have been designed and lined for regular play and for children aged 10 and younger.

Area parents, coaches and volunteer instructors were provided April 16 with information on new tennis rules and regulations catering to young children just learning the game.

"It's always been my goal to make New Milford a tennis town,'' Ms. Payne said.

With programs offered this spring by Parks & Recreation, she hopes she can begin to make this a reality.

A QuickStart tennis program for kids age 6 to 10 is supplemented by cardio-tennis for those age 18 and older who want to use tennis as a high-energy, group workout.

A class for seniors age 50 and older is called "Tennis For the Health of It.''

"If you can walk you can play," said Ms. Payne. "That's why we say its for people age 8 to 98."

For information, call New Milford Parks & Recreation at 860-355-6050 or email

Nanci Hutson and Norm Cummings