Like many sports, tennis is facing the challenge of trying to get females involved and keeping them interested in the game once they’ve been introduced to it. The challenge is especially difficult for an individual sport which is why Tennis Manitoba’s Mother-Daughter Tennis program is so unique and creative.

Executive Director Mark Arndt wanted to create a safe, fun, and comfortable environment for young girls to try tennis. What better way to do that than to include their mothers and even their grandmothers on occasion? Many participants have also brought their friends on board which makes the environment even more inviting and engaging.  Once a week for two months, the mother-daughter duos spend an hour on-court working with a female instructor and then another hour off-court taking part in a social activity at the Taylor Tennis Centre in Winnipeg during the winter and the Tennis Manitoba Hub @ Deer Lodge for an eventual summer program. During their most recent sessions in February, they tried yoga, learned from a nutritionist about healthy eating, and were inspired by several high-level athletes.

Mother-Daughter Tennis
Photo: Mother-Daughter Tennis

Arndt and his team first tried a pilot program in 2021 and it was an instant success. They hoped to attract 24 participants, including 12 U14 players, and they ended up having to cap the enrolment at 64 participants to meet the initial demand. Given these numbers, it’s easy to see why Mother-Daughter Tennis was an inaugural recipient of the newly established Game. Set. Equity. Community Tennis Grant presented by National Bank.


The funding from the grant is being put towards registration fees to make the program more accessible regardless of someone’s socio-economic background, paying for indoor court time, and providing a salary for the female instructors. Most importantly though, the grant allows for the girls to remain on the pathway of their choice, either the recreational stream or the competitive one, because Tennis Manitoba can now help them put money towards a club membership which will instantly give them more chances to play and go a long way to keeping them in the sport.

“We want to increase the number of females in our tennis community. We are moving the needle definitely, but I want to do it at a faster pace, it’s still a work in progress,” Arndt explained. “This initiative really excites me as there are several layers to it. Once the program has been completed, it allows for participants to continue towards a desired tennis pathway where further funding will be provided.”


While the impact of this relatively new program has yet to be felt at a national level, it is giving girls with no prior connections to tennis their first taste of the game, which is no small feat. Arndt is utilizing the services of FITGirls Communications, who have an extensive database of girls with a passion for sports, to recruit new faces.

The ultimate goal is to eventually produce players who can enter the high performance pathway or earn a tennis scholarship to get an education while continuing to play at a high level. They are also opening the door to the many opportunities that tennis can provide including becoming a coach, an official, or an off-court pursuit.

First, though, it would seem that Tennis Manitoba is going to need to find more court time to keep up with the growing popularity of their innovative Mother-Daughter Tennis program which is certainly a great problem to have and is hopefully a sign of things to come.