Tennis youngsters have a smashing time at Petworth

Children enjoy taking part in the tennis coaching session at Petworth Tennis Club  Picture by Kate Shemilt C121026-3
Children enjoy taking part in the tennis coaching session at Petworth Tennis Club Picture by Kate Shemilt C121026-3
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The launch of Petworth Lawn Tennis Club’s tennis camps for four to 11-year-olds proved an enormous success. Wide smiles wrapped across the faces of the 30 or so children who took part said it all.

On day one the rain stopped just as children began to trickle into the club and on to the courts where Nick Smallwood, the coach, lined them up against the fence two racket-lengths apart and treated them to a safety talk.

“Those rackets can be dangerous. They can cause injury,” he told them.

The youngsters were divided into teams and began with simple exercises like bouncing, throwing and catching, and jumping, running and picking up.

These help children become used to ball movement and co-ordinating eye with hand.

Next it was on to the serious business of playing team games, each designed to teach ball and racket skills. The noise level went up as each team vied to win.

There seemed to be a lot of Team GBs and Olympic spirit around.

Later the focus shifted to hitting balls over the net for which the coach introduced games like ‘graveyard’ and ‘king of the court’.

Smiles became wider as the ice cream van arrived. There was a rush to find coins and get a good place in the queue before all sank on to the nearest bench to enjoy a well-deserved break.

The second day of coaching brought similar scenes plus a barbecue, which was also overseen by coach Nick, helped ably by his daughter, Susie, who was assistant coach.

It was great to see the more hesitant youngsters gain in confidence. Perhaps the success of the camps may be gauged by one participant who, though starting off reluctantly, ended up wanting coaching lessons.

See www.petworthtennis.co.uk or call 01798 344462 for more about the club.

MICHAEL CRAWLEY