ANNA – Fifteen kids jumped right into their summer break with tennis camp, June 4-7, at the Anna Sports Complex. Though some rain had to be dodged the first two days, sunshine shone brightly for the rest of the four-day camp and a good time appeared to be had by all.
“We have a little bit better turnout than last year, so that is exciting,” Anna head tennis coach Vince Sharp said on Day 3. “Sometimes having it the first week after school is a tough week to do it, but it kind of helps with the heat. This week we really had to worry more about the rain. We’ve been indoors as much as we’ve been in outdoors. But the kids have had a blast. They’ve learned a lot.”
Camp was open to kids entering first through seventh grades in August. Assisting Sharp were incoming Anna juniors Andrea Alvarez and Jesus Garrido, as well as Sharp’s daughters, incoming eighth-grader Morgan and incoming sixth-grader Ella —all accomplished tennis players.
“I think it’s really good to get the younger kids involved,” Alvarez said, “because it helps once they get older. They’ll have more experience once they get into high school. They’ll kind of know how we do things over here. … I’m used to being with kids and I really like it. Nothing really surprised me. I’m just glad they’re all having a fun time.”
“It’s been amazing,” Garrido said. “I honestly love helping the kids. I’ve helped in previous years but not as much as this year. … The thing that surprised me the most is how each kid has gotten so much better over time.” Serving, he said, is the most difficult skill for kids to master.
The two-and-a-half-hour sessions began at 8 a.m. each morning, with stretching being the first order of business. Mastering forehand and backhand technique was an early skill taught, then volleying and serving as camp progressed. There was also plenty of time for just plain fun.
The kids played tennis over chairs in the cafeteria when forced inside on Monday then got in some wall-ball Tuesday in the gym. “We played wall-ball for about 45 minutes,” Sharp said, “and I think they enjoyed hitting the ball off the wall as much as they did hitting it over the net.”
Leyton Wetzel, 10, was attending his second tennis camp. “I like how it’s helping me to learn more about it. I’m named after a famous tennis player, Lleyton Hewitt, so I want to see how good I am at tennis,” he said.
(Australian pro Lleyton Hewitt, 37, was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2001 and 2002. He retired from singles play in 2016 and is the last Australian to win a men’s singles Grand Slam title.)
First-time camper Stevie Jo Foale, 8, said her favorite part of the week had been playing Monkeys and Bananas, a sort of dodge ball with larger, softer tennis balls. “I like the overhand toss too,” she added, while demonstrating the proper footwork to a T.