8-18 Media Journalists
MARQUETTE — The Marquette Tennis Association recently hosted a camp that aimed to promote tennis to youth in the community, targeting high school students who wanted to learn the basics of tennis.
Marquette Tennis Association member Brett Girard was the lead instructor for the program which ran throughout May.
Sixth, seventh and eighth graders gathered on the courts of Marquette High School to improve their tennis skills by doing drills and playing games.
Girard himself has been playing tennis for about 30 years and knows the “additions and outputs” Game.
Girard said 35 children signed up, which he said was a success for the college’s first year of running the program.
“I think it involves more children. I think some of the kids have played before and some probably haven’t. said Girard. “So from that point of view, I think we introduce tennis to some kids, but some have already played and some started at a much younger age. And that’s just to get the message across that tennis is a fun sport that you can play for a long time and hopefully realize that they’re having fun and maybe want to play in high school.
Girard explained that the program operated as a fundraiser for the Marquette Tennis Association and that all funds raised would be used to promote tennis to local youth. The camp also relied heavily on adults and volunteers from the MSHS varsity tennis team.
Hosanna Brindle, a 16-year-old junior and college tennis player who started playing tennis two years ago, volunteered to help because she enjoyed the extra time on the court and the company.
“I like college kids because they are funny. I wish I had started younger because I love tennis so much,” Brindle said.
What did the college participants take away from the program?
Niyush Gautam, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Bothwell Middle School in Marquette, said his favorite part of camp was learning the basics of tennis.
“Camp definitely improved my forehand skills and I enjoyed playing at a faster speed than usual. I think I can continue to improve my backhand. said Gautam.
Girard encourages kids who might be hesitant to take up tennis to get out there and give it a try.
“Everyone starts somewhere. Tennis is a very difficult sport from the point of view that you have to devote a lot of time to it”, said Girard. “You have to start and just go out and play, find friends and go out. It’s a fun time.
As in most aspects of life and sport, practice is the key to better performance.
“You have to practice so much. All in all, all my years, I’ve spent many hours on these courts and you can always improve,” explains Girard. “It just takes a lot of hard work. You just gotta do it. There are no shortcuts in tennis, unfortunately.
Girard hopes to repeat the college program in the future, as well as other tennis camps such as the upcoming 35th annual Fun in Tennis — or FIT — camp hosted by the Marquette Tennis Association.
The camp will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 11 with a rain date on June 12 at the Marquette High School tennis courts.
The camp is free and is open to children in grades one through eight. The camp includes lunch and prizes. A limited number of snowshoes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The FIT camp will also focus on exposing kids to tennis at a young age, Girard explained, saying hopefully the extra exposure will help them in the future, as tennis is a lifelong sport.
Annabella Martinson, 17, and Nistha Gautam, 17, are both juniors at MSHS. Martinson enjoys playing tennis and enjoys singing with the MSHS Chorale and Gautam enjoys playing tennis and is the President of the Marquette Chapter of the National Honor Society.