Tennis: Youth players take the court for summer camp

Elin Zheng is one of several local tennis players who have come up through the Rochelle youth summer camp. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

RTHS program building foundation for the future

ROCHELLE — Young tennis players from around the Rochelle area are getting an opportunity to hone their skills and gain the Rochelle Township High School tennis experience during the high school program’s annual four-day summer camp this week.

Head coaches Kristy Eckardt and Lizzie Cartwright are leading campers through many different drills and games this week, which combine to help players learn and improve on the fundamentals of tennis. The summer camp started Monday morning at the RTHS tennis courts, and players will continue working from 8:30 to 10 a.m. through Thursday. Campers range from third-graders through eighth-graders.

“It’s really fun working with the younger kids, especially since many of them have never played tennis before,” Eckardt said. “Having the chance to introduce them to a fun sport and see their improvements is really awesome. We had kids who haven’t played before come in on Monday and improved so vastly over the first 90 minutes.”

Younger campers learn the basic skills of tennis including groundstrokes, grips, footwork and movement on the court. With the help of current and former RTHS players, coaches Eckardt and Cartwright also teach campers the rules of the game including scoring and boundaries. Older campers work on improving their power and control while learning more about in-game strategy as they prepare for their futures as RTHS tennis players.

“We go over a lot of the basic forehands, backhands and volleys,” Eckardt said. “We try turning many of our drills into games and other competitions to keep the kids interested. Whether it’s moving closer to the net or changing some of the rules, it’s all about having fun, and we hope that the kids can get a jump on tennis when they’re younger so they can come to high school with some experience. These kids will have an advantage by starting earlier.”


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