Summer youth tennis program starts soon

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — Starting June 7, local youth tennis players will flock to Duncan Park for its annual youth summer tennis program.

The program runs from the second week of June through July 30, with a break the week of June 28. Duncan Park Tennis Director Henry Harris said the summer program is a great way to get local high school athletes to better their game.

“We’ve had kids from Trinity, ACCS, Huntington, Natchez High and Franklin County High that have participated in our summer clinics before,” Harris said.

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“Usually, after I talk to those coaches who have kids that needed work, they’ve thanked me after seeing those kids show improvement. It helps those coaches a lot, and gives kids something to do in the morning.”

The program, which is in its third year of existence, has shown a steady growth each year since it started, Harris said.

“We started off with 70 kids the first year, then last year we had between 80 and 90 kids, so it’s seen a 10 percent increase each year,” Harris said.

Harris said he hopes to attract college athletes to help coach the younger players during the summer program.

“We already have Stephany Smith, a teacher in Louisiana, and Michael Wright, who’s a certified teaching pro,” Harris said.

“We’ll be making some phone calls to college kids that play tennis who are looking for a summer job. We have some openings and we would love to have them.”

Even just three years in, Harris said he’s already seen the program have a positive effect on local athletes.

“Ninety percent of Natchez High School’s tennis team came through the program. I think that by starting young, we introduced tennis as a sport for life,” Harris said.

“Our program is good for teaching them the fundamentals of tennis, and giving them something to do so we can keep them out of trouble.”

Registration for the six-week program is $65. Grades 6 and under will come on Monday and Wednesday mornings, while grades 7 and above will come on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We don’t have a deadline for signing up. Some kids go to camp for the first week of summer, others go on the third week of the summer, so if they want to get in the program we always let them in,” Harris said.