Spec Tennis: A new healthy activity becoming popular in the Lake Tahoe area | South Lake Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Young, old, fit, out of shape, tennis player or not? Spec Tennis is quickly gaining in popularity as it breaks down the barriers in making it doable and enjoyable for everyone.

Just as pickleball became the rage, Spec Tennis is gaining respect as another activity that can be done almost anywhere.

Lake Tahoe resident Nate Gross created Spec Tennis in 2016 after seeing pickleball on courts in Santa Rosa. The former Division 1 tennis player and tennis pro said he wanted to see what was going on. He tried to play something more tennis-like on those courts, tried out different racket sizes, and settled on what is now Spec Tennis- an orange dot ball and paddle.

He took the new idea to his buddies and they had a tournament, and Nate thought maybe the sport would be appreciated by a bigger audience.

Nate incorporated Spec Tennis into his tennis teaching philosophy in 2018

“The Spec paddle is narrower, making it easier to hit the ball,” Nate said. “It is a lower bouncing ball that is easier to control. Makes a great learning environment, and a great bridge to and from tennis.”

But, being able to play tennis does not have to be the goal of players.

Spec Tennis can be played with no private lesson, no previous play in high school or college, and does not need a big court which can be rare to find in Lake Tahoe.

Nate said many tennis courts are being converted into Spec Tennis courts – one tennis court becomes four for the new game, so 16 people can be playing in one space in teams of doubles.

He said he’s seen nets set up in parking lots and on other paved surfaces as well. It can also be played indoors and works well on hardwood gym floors. The net is portable and can be set up anywhere.

Nate is the director of racket sports at Clear Creek Tahoe where he teaches tennis and Spec Tennis. He currently has Spec Tennis going on at Kahle Community Center and in Carson City.

Once one starts playing they can be at competition level in just weeks, Nate said.

Nate is new to Lake Tahoe, having moved to the area in May 2021. He grew up in Sonoma County and played Division 1 tennis at Idaho State where he earned a master’s degree in business.

He said Spec Tennis players can enjoy time on the court with anyone – friends, family, kids. “You can play with anyone you want,” Nate said.

The learning curve of Spec Tennis is very small so can enjoy your time from day one and not stress over technique or rules. They use a simplified version of the tennis scoring system. Whoever gets to four points wins the game, four games in a set. There is no need to win a game by two points.

It is also simpler than pickleball with none of the restrictions. Nate said pickleball only has one or two strategies played whereas Spec Tennis is more tennis0like with many strategies.

The sport is growing and is played by about 5,500 players in the US with South Florida seeing a huge spurt. Nate said people can become Spec Tennis ambassadors to help the sport grow in their communities. He already has 50-60 ambassadors.

“My goal for Tahoe is to start the Lake Tahoe Spec Tennis Club,” said Nate. Reach out to him if interested.

For more information, visit https://spectennis.com/, email him at nate@spectennis.com. Those interested in playing, join others on Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (Pickleball: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm). Cost: $30 per class (Mention the article and get your 1st class for $15).


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