Young netters take the court for RTHS tennis camp

Cartwright, Eckardt aiming to help players build foundational skills

ROCHELLE — Rochelle tennis coaches Lizzie Cartwright and Kristy Eckardt understand the importance of building a strong foundation for any athletic program. This week, players ranging from grade school to middle school joined Cartwright and Eckardt at the Rochelle Township High School tennis courts for this week’s RTHS summer tennis camp.

“The kids are happy to be here,” Eckardt said. “They’re excited and they just eat everything up… They love all the competitions and it’s fun to see how enthusiastic they are.”

The five-day camp began on Monday, with players working with Cartwright and Eckardt to learn and improve on basic skills including forehand shots, backhand shots, volleys and more. Six campers participated, with the campers often being split into two groups of three for team competitions centered around the core skills they learned.

“I love their enthusiasm and their hustle,” Cartwright said. “They all love to hustle around the court. They’re really open to learning new things and I really enjoy their personalities… We teach them all of the basics about tennis.”

Campers will continue honing their skills as the week progresses, and as they practice the physical skills of the game, campers also learn basic concepts such as identifying the lines on the court. Campers receive a trivia question at the end of each session, and those who come the next day with the right answer receive a reward.

“We don’t get too in-depth about strategy but we emphasize having a positive attitude, trying hard and never giving up,” Eckardt said. “We want the kids to have fun and we want them to know that tennis is a fun game. It’s unique that the game can be played with just one other person.”

The goal of the summer camp is to build an interest in tennis at a young age and encourage players to continue pursuing the sport once camp is over. While many of the campers who attended this week’s opening session are many years from possibly playing at RTHS, building interest in tennis could lead to more participation in future camps or the high school program.

“We absolutely hope they come out and play tennis because this is how we can build foundational skills they can use for the rest of their lives,” Cartwright said.

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