This week at the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri, third and fourth grade members learned how to play tennis through a clinic sponsored by the Club in partnership with the U.S. Tennis Association.
Lindsay Miller, USTA tennis service representative, visited the Summer Program Friday and taught members tennis basics, such as balancing, hitting and serving.
“I love getting people involved,” said Miller, who started playing tennis at 14. “Seeing all the smiles and the kids engaged is great.”
Club members were divided into groups with Youth Development Professions to practice their basic skills before facing Club YDP Chelsey Muths for a one-on-one game of “beat the coach.”
“People live a longer happier life by being active,” Muths said. “It’s important to have fun.”
Cole Camp Site Manager Tara Walker said she wanted to bring the game of tennis to Club members for a healthy and fun opportunity.
“Lindsay has come twice to Cole Camp and the children really enjoyed it,” Walker said. “Not a lot of kids get the chance to play tennis so I thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Many Club members have played tennis on the Wii but soon learned that “real” tennis was very different.
“I learned a lot of things. It’s a little confusing,” said Club member Izzy Blakely, 10. “I thought you could hit the ball in the air, but you have to let it bounce. It’s more difficult than the Wii.”
One of the Club’s three priority outcomes is Healthy Lifestyles, which focuses on teaching members the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle.
“It’s good for them to be active so they learn to live a healthy lifestyle,” Club YDP Wyatt Payne said. “They are actually enjoying something outdoors instead of being stuck inside. It’s very important.”
Miller said she believes in the importance of being active no matter how small the activity is.
“I’m a diabetic,” Miller said. “I’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle. The age you start being active is very important.”
By the end of the clinic, many members had improved their skills drastically. They went from not being able to hit the ball, to being able to control where the ball was hit. Members also got the chance to play against Miller.
“I learned that tennis is fun because I got to hit the ball,” said Club member Jordan Baldwin,9.
“I learned that you can’t do ‘pancake style’ and how to balance the ball,” said Club member Olivia Robinson,9. “We are having a lot of fun!”