Former Solanco High tennis players Annie Hammel and Thea McCullough are assisting aspiring athletes who are following in their footsteps.
Hammel, McCullough, and Hammel's husband, Mike, are serving as instructors at Solanco Tennis Camp.
Thirteen players attended the camp, which is for boys and girls who this fall are entering second through ninth grades. It began July 9 and takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings through July 25, at the Solanco High School tennis courts.
"The goal of the camp is to introduce the sport of tennis," said Annie Hammel, who has also coached Solanco's varsity girls tennis team. "A lot of kids aren't familiar with tennis. [The camp] shares the love of tennis and teaches the basic skills."
Older and advanced players get specialized training. "We have some returners so we want to develop their skills further from their past years at camp," said Hammel, who has worked an an instructor for 18 years. "Some of the kids are going into ninth grade so this is their last year of camp. They've been coming here as soon as they could in the second grade."
The camp also helps prospective high school players hone their skills. "It helps prepare them for the high school team," said Hammel. "There are a couple girls who are going to be on the high school team this year."
McCullough is an example of a player who attended the camp and went on to play for the Mules.
"I learned how to play tennis at this camp and that made me want to play in high school," said McCullough, a 2017 Solanco High graduate. "So I want to do the same thing for the younger kids."
McCullough is spending her third year as an instructor. "Any chance I get to play tennis, I'll take it," she said. "Tennis is a lifetime sport and you don't get to do it much if you're by yourself."