Duncan Park tennis transitions

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amar Weir, 12, participates in tennis practice Thursday afternoon at the Duncan Park tennis courts in Natchez. Duncan Park finished its afterschool program Thursday and will transition to summer workshops. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — With the transition from spring to summer, Duncan Park’s afterschool tennis program wrapped up Thursday afternoon.

Duncan Park Tennis Director Henry Harris said approximately 60 children grades K-12 participated in the program, and he hopes many will stick around for summer camp.

“They went through just about all the skills,” Harris said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to form teams this summer to play against teams from Vicksburg and Brookhaven.”

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Harris said he has to share many of his athletes with different sports throughout the school year, but they’re still able to learn a lot during their sessions.

“You have cheerleading and football, then basketball, then baseball and softball, so you have to get them in between,” Harris said. “We’ll have them for about eight weeks, then football and cheering starts back up.”

The basics that Harris focuses on are forehands, backhands, serves and volleys. Sarah Hamilton, 12, said forehand and backhand are the two main things she’s been focusing on.

“I like forehand, but you have to be able to do both,” she said.

Hamilton said she got into tennis after watching the sport on television.

“I’ve been doing tennis for about a year, probably (closer to) eight to nine months,” Hamilton said. “I watched it on TV and really wanted to do it. I liked how people hit the ball.”

But she said she doesn’t necessarily have a favorite tennis player.

“I don’t pay attention to names, I just watch it sometimes,” Hamilton said.

Kirdis Clark, 12, also participated in the afterschool program at Duncan Park. Like Hamilton, she got into tennis by watching it on TV. But unlike Hamilton, Clark said she definitely has favorite players.

“I came up watching Venus and Serena (Williams),” Clark said. “I want to be like them. I have a sister that comes out here (8-year-old Kelsey McNeil), and they always call us Venus and Serena.”

The aggressiveness of the Williams sisters is what Clark said she likes most about the way they play.

“They don’t really get mad when they lose, but when they win, they get excited,” Clark said.

Clark also said she enjoys the coaching Harris provides her every time she comes out to Duncan Park.

“He pushes me so much, because he wants me to be the best I can be,” Clark said. “When you mess up, he tells you don’t worry and try again, and when you lose, he tells you to hold your head up high.”

Both Hamilton and Clark said they will attend Duncan Park’s summer program. Registration for the camp is $65, and it will from June 6 to July 29 at the Duncan Park tennis courts.