Solanco Tennis Camp aims to provide an enjoyable experience for aspiring high school players or anyone hoping to learn the fundamentals of a sport they can play for their entire lives.
This summer's camp, held at the high school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July, has 12 youth participants and six members of the Mules' high school team. The high school players take part in drills and also help the younger campers.
Lead instructor Annie Hammel, who is also Solanco High's varsity girls tennis coach, was pleased to see more families become involved this summer.
"We want to introduce the game of tennis," said Annie Hammel. "It's a lifelong sport. Even if they don't wind up playing on the high school team, it's a great sport to learn and to be able to play the rest of their lives. Learning the fundamentals of it, the basic forehands and backhands, volley shots, and making it fun."
Games help make the camp sessions enjoyable. "We introduce it through games," Hammel said. "They love playing "kings and queens of the court" and "back of the bus" to practice their volleys."
Hammel is assisted by her husband, Mike, and Mules assistant coach Kayla Brown, who attended the camp as a kid and went on to play for Solanco. Mike Hammel provides instruction and, as importantly, is in charge of making sure everyone is having fun.
Annie Hammel says the campers are fast learners. "From day one, you start seeing progress," she said. "We're working on the little things, breaking down their forehands through footwork and through their form. They catch on quickly."
The summer camp is currently the only tennis program in the southern end, but Hammel hopes to change that. "Our goal is to provide more opportunities for the youth throughout the year," Hammel said. "Instead of offering just a summer program, having something in the fall and the spring, also."