Return serve: Former Cathedral star teaching youth
NATCHEZ — Dwain Perkins said he knew he wanted to play tennis since he was 9 years old. Ten years later, he never thought he’d be walking in the footsteps of his tennis coach, Henry Harris.
Perkins, 19, won several awards and tournaments in his prep career at Cathedral High School, including a District 7 championship in the singles category and the state championship in the doubles division in 2011.
His experience and talent earned him a scholarship to play tennis at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where he is going through fall training. However, Perkins still manages to come home every weekend for one reason: He has been training several youth at Duncan Park every Friday and Saturday, an experience he said is a very rewarding.
“I always talked about being big on helping the kids and giving back,” Perkins said. “Harris taught me a lot of stuff, and it’s also like I’m giving back to him, as well.”
Though he loves what he does, Perkins said it is much different trying to coach 5 year olds.
“The attention span is hard to deal with sometimes,” he said. “You have to play games and keep their attention while you teach them. But you also can’t burn them out.”
Perkins has been implementing some fundamentals to the forehand and backhand swings with his young athletes, but he has to make sure he keeps things exciting as he teaches.
“We’re just teaching them about how to be on the court and just letting them stay active,” Perkins said.
“We don’t want to get them to get tired of it.”
Perkins said he wishes he had the same jump on training that his players have. Though the children are young, he said it is the perfect time to get them involved in such a fundamental sport.
“The earlier you start, the better,” Perkins said. “You can’t just go out there and do it, it takes muscle memory.”
As Perkins continues to train his youngsters, he is also getting ready for his sophomore season at Co-Lin. He said the next step for him will be choosing a four-year university at which he can finish his career, and he has a few places in mind.
“I kind of want to go to Jackson State, or maybe a school like Georgia Southern, because my sister lives in Georgia,” he said.
Perkins’ first match of the 2014 season will be on Feb. 20 against Holmes Community College.