David Dunlap’s tennis camp made a return this summer after more than a decade on hiatus.
There are 26 youngsters honing their basic tennis skills throughout the three-day camp, which ends Wednesday at David Dunlap Tennis Complex at Milner Recreation Center.
“In 2009, the economy tanked. So I had such low numbers I didn’t do a camp again until this year,” Dunlap said.
Aided by his trusty sidekick Susan Barrett, Dunlap imparted to his young charges the fundamentals of tennis, including volleying, serving, footwork, forehands, proper swinging arc, hand-racket placement, backhands, and calling “in” or “out” on shots.
Dunlap and Barrett impressed the young campers while showing proper serving technique. “Whoa,” said Jensen Turner after witnessing a Dunlap serve.
“You don’t want to get hit by that ball,” another camper commented on a vicious Barrett serve.
Campers got plenty of one-on-one instruction and group instruction during the camp. They also got the opportunity to partake in some friendly competition during the “King/Queen of the Court” segments, which were a hit.
Dunlap, who has coached youth tennis (and other sports) for decades in the local school system, is now teaching the game to his second or third generation in Warren County.
“What was your dad’s name? I think I taught him,” Dunlap said to camper Ridley Sain, whose father he coached in sixth-grade basketball years ago.
The number of young people who showed up for his camp pleased Dunlap. “It’s actually better than I thought,” Dunlap said. “Like I said, I had not done a camp in several years.”
“I’d say most of this group might play middle school tennis,” Dunlap said of his 10- to 12-year-olds. “When they do a few lessons and camps before middle school starts, that gives them confidence. Otherwise, they just start middle school and sixth grade, and they don’t know anything, and it’s harder on them.”
Dunlap said more tennis-playing opportunities will be available to young people in Warren County in the coming months.
“We’re going to do a league after the Dr Pepper tournament. It’ll be a fall league. In the wintertime we’ll do a winter league.”
The Dr. Pepper tournament will take place Aug. 4-6, the fall league will run roughly August to October, and the winter league will run late October to late February.
Near the end of Tuesday’s training, Rex Miller said he was enjoying the experience. He said tennis is one of his favorite sports, along with swimming.
With the sun beating down on the campers as they picked up the remaining tennis balls and surveyed the nearby Gilley Pool, one of them commented on post-workout plans: “I could be swimming right now.”