The Penticton Tennis Club is serving up aces at its annual summer junior tennis camp.
Following the first sold-out session in May and June, the second camp, also sold out, got underway July 9 at the club. It goes through August.
During the camp, players of all skill levels, ages five and up, benefit from the experienced and dedicated PTC coaches to hone their personal game, one that can become lifetime sport.
There is one key ingredient both the club and coaches mandate for their young charges — having fun.
“Fun is the No. 1 thing, because if they’re not having fun, they’re not going to come back. The priority is to keep them moving and having fun with each other and meeting new kids and enjoying the game of tennis,” said coach Kersten Grant, who started the junior program four years ago with her husband Bob. “We have lots of games that are age appropriate, we have age-appropriate equipment, so they get success a lot sooner.”
Amy Hawkins is one of the players enrolled in the current camp.
“I really like learning the game and the coaches and people at the club are really nice, it really is a lot of fun,” she said.
Her friend Mia Lemieux agreed, “I like doing the drills and I really like to come here and get better.”
The kids are not the only ones enjoying their time on the four PTC courts.
“I’m 73 and I’ve never had so much fun and this keeps me young,” said coach George Shaw.
Keeping the player-to-coach ratio low is one of the best ways coaches find to keep young players engaged.
For the younger ones, coaches use junior-sized racquets and balls.
The more advanced players use regulation-size equipment, with instruction focusing on proper ground strokes, serving and volleys by applying progressively-advanced drills and the all-important game play.
Beginners learn the proper techniques through fun drills, games and activities.
According to PTC club president and junior coach Lori Grant, it’s not surprising the camps sell out.
“I think parents are just happy to have tennis as another sport and skill for kids to be able to learn and have for a lifetime,” she said. “We also have kids who play soccer and baseball and hockey so this is just another sport they can add to the list of things they can do.”
There’s also a cool treat at lunch time for the participants, which is especially important on these hot days — a trip to Marina Way Beach which is just down the road.
“Beach time is a good bonus, hang out in the shade play in the sand and the water for some time, so the kids really enjoy that. It’s a nice break for them,” said Grant.
The end goal is to bring the enjoyment of the game to a young audience by having them learn the skills and grace of the sport and that’s the fun part.
“When they get confident with the success they’ve had then they’re the ones who are going to say to their parents, ‘Yeah I want to come back next year.’ So it sells itself,” said Kersten.
Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald