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Tampa Bay tennis pro serves up love for the sport with innovative game

Tampa Bay area tennis professional David Archer is rallying for support behind a new game his dad invented to teach children how scoring occurs. Tennis, The Game was invented by Richard Neil Archer in 1997 to help the younger Archer’s four-year-old son, Justin, learn the rules of the game. 

“My dad used a cardboard carrying tray from a 24-pack of Pepsi and a string tied across the top of that to create a net,” explains Archer, who is now 55 years old. In 2000, the Archers made 2,000 copies of the game and sold it to parents, schools,and organizations throughout the United States and in other nations, including England, Mexico, Serbia and Spain. 

“Tennis scoring is easy once you get it,” Archer remarks, “but getting to understand it can take time.” A rather unusual 15-30-40 scoring sequence and unique gameplay terms, such as “love” for a score of zero points and “deuce” to describe a tie at 40 points, make learning the game challenging for many, both young and old, who are unfamiliar with tennis. 

More than 2,000 copies of Tennis, The Game have been sold over the years, but now the Archers are hoping a Kickstarter campaign will serve up enough funds to produce more copies of the game to educate more children in classrooms across the country. 

“Tennis, The Game allows 30 children to learn the scoring and basic rules of the sport in 45 minutes,” Archer says. “The game is retro -- you have to interface with someone to play the game, handle scoring, call the right lines. It’s not a roll-the-dice, move-the-piece kind of game -- you’re really playing tennis.” The Archers, who sell the game for $30 each through their Kickstarter site, are hoping to raise $15,000 to launch the next edition and fund a series of YouTube videos that will teach tennis fundamentals to a much wider audience. 

What’s the inspiration behind all of this? Spreading the love of tennis to the next generation, especially at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth who may not otherwise have opportunities to learn the sport. 

“I realized that many kids wake up every day and have no hope. I want to give these kids a hope and a future.” Tennis, The Game can be played indoors, taught in after-school groups and in other settings where children can be taught tennis without use of a court. 

Archer also parlays his love for the game by teaching children the basics as a coach with Global Community Tennis of Pinellas, a nonprofit organization that teaches at-risk boys and girls throughout the community beginner-level skills for free with the aim of preparing them for more competitive play at the high school level and beyond. 

The kids play on tennis courts at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Police Athletic League, High Point Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater, and Citizen’s Alliance for Progress, Inc. Union Academy Family Center in Tarpon Springs. 

“We’ll learn how successful this can be when one of these kids becomes ranked in the United States Tennis Association of Florida.” 

Archer, who is authoring '8 Weeks to Tournament Tennis,' an instructional book aimed to prime children ages 5-8 in the fundamentals of the sport, says Tennis, The Game is something that children “absolutely love.” But the board game will need investors to expand the product into a larger market and subsequently help more young children learn about the sport. “Our mission is to instill a love for the game. Love is not something you manufacture -- it is given to you and then given to others.” 

Read more articles by Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez.

 Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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