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Duncan Park ends summer youth tennis program with fun day

NATCHEZ — After many intense workouts in the heat, local campers got to enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere at the Duncan Park tennis courts.

On Wednesday, Duncan Park concluded its summer youth tennis program, and instead of a regular camp day, the park hosted a fun day for the campers. The event lasted from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“We’ve had these kids for eight weeks, and we’re having a little fun day, where they can win prizes and eat cake,” said Henry Harris, Duncan Park’s tennis director.

“All of these kids are campers, and these activities teach them how to hit backhands, forehands and volleys.”

And those are the main types of swings Harris wants his younger campers to focus on developing, he said.

“You don’t want to teach them the serve at such a young age, because you don’t want to mess up their shoulders and arms,” he said.

Harris said he was pleased with how the summer camp went this year, even though they had to cut down on class sizes.

“We’re used to having about 90 kids, but this year we had to bring it down to about 50. We usually have two Alcorn State tennis players help us teach, but one went back to India and the other to Mexico,” Harris said.

“Having the smaller class sizes with less instructors allowed us to get every kid the fundamentals of learning tennis, as well as getting on the court and actually having court experience.”

Cierra Smith, an 11th grader at Natchez High School, said she enjoyed the camp this year, but definitely preferred the larger groups of the past.

“It does give you an advantage in a way, but I do kind of like a larger group, because there’s more competition,” Smith said.

Even so, Smith also said she got a lot of much-needed practice time in at the camp this summer.

“It’s very important getting that practice time in, because I notice if you miss at least two or three days, you slack off with your game. You have to constantly practice to get better,” she said.

Harris said children from all over the Miss-Lou have a promising future in tennis.

“We have kids from Waterproof, (La.), and Wilkinson County, and they’ll feed into WCCA and Tensas Academy to play tennis. We also had kids that will feed into the four local schools,” Harris said.

“Exercise is the biggest thing we’re teaching them — having a work ethic and getting their body into shape. Starting them at ages 4 to 6, they’re getting a sport where, when softball, football and baseball leaves them, they can go on a court and play tennis with their kids or parents.”

Smith, who has been attending the camp since eighth grade, said she’s improved on aspects of her game as a result.

“I got better on my serves and my backhands, but I definitely still have to work on my serves,” Smith said.

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