According to the United States Tennis Association, tennis offers plenty of perks for kids and teens, including making new friends, learning teamwork and sportsmanship, building discipline, enhancing coordination and flexibility, and increasing bone strength. Those are strong incentives for parents to sign up their kids for tennis camp—but will they actually enjoy it? And how can you tell which tennis camp is the best fit?
To find out, I interviewed the dynamic duo Danielle and Brittany (commonly referred to as The Beauty and The Beast around their high school tennis court) and Colleen (another accomplished tennis camper and instructor), who spent a collective 14 years in tennis camp during their teenage years. Here are their best insights for tennis players of all levels. I hope this helps you find the perfect place for your kid!
Why attend tennis camp?
For Brittany, tennis camp was a great way to spend time with friends while training for her upcoming high school tennis season. “Kids should expect to play a lot of tennis and get into good shape since there will probably be a lot of conditioning as well,” says Colleen. Tennis camp also teaches kids a skill set that will be with them forever, says Danielle. “Campers should expect to learn correct form and the rules of the game, while also learning how to work with and communicate with a variety of people.” Colleen still treasures the new friendships she built with many of the players. “It was a fun environment where I could hang out with people my age,” she says.
How can you choose a camp that meets your goals?
“I think it’s important to understand what you want to get out of the camp,” says Danielle. “If it’s for summer activity instead of for training, the instructor should be fun and patient.” Her advice: If your child doesn’t know how to play and needs to learn the basics, you’ll want a camp that is more low-key. “If you are there for training—to really improve your skills—you should be looking for a camp with more structure,” says Danielle. Some questions to ask the camp director: What are the skills that are being taught each day/week? Are there different levels? How quickly can a player move between the levels? How will the players’ skills be tested throughout the camp?
What should you look for in an instructor?
“Instructors should be knowledgeable, in shape, uplifting, and fun!” says Brittany. “They will also strongly value the instructor-player relationship.” Colleen’s thoughts: “I would recommend looking for an instructor who has experience running a tennis camp and also encourages you to participate in other activities outside of tennis.”
What do kids like most (and least) about tennis camp?
“My camp included fun and exciting activities outside of the game itself, like pie-eating contests and races, which helped bond the tennis pros and the tennis players/campers,” says Brittany. Her least-favorite part? Running a type of sprinting drill called suicides. “During the summer, I was more interested in having fun than being at any kind of tennis boot camp,” she says.
Danielle says that her camps were organized by skill level. “The age range of each group could be very wide, especially when I first started attending,” she says. “As the years went on, that changed, though, and the groups became competitive and I became less age-conscious.”
How can tennis camp help kids in the long run?
Danielle’s love of tennis grew, along with her skill set–thanks, in part, to her summer training. “I made it on my high school’s varsity team during my sophomore, junior, and senior year. I was also a hand-selected tournament player throughout high school, and I played on the club team while in college,” she says. Brittany also played tennis throughout high school, and Colleen even taught tennis for four summers!
Any tips for kids starting tennis camp?
“I would say just go into it with an open mind and have fun,” says Colleen. “Don’t take it too seriously or it could become a chore.” On the other hand, says Brittany, do remember that tennis camp involves a good workout. “Be prepared with lots of water and sweat towels, which will definitely come in handy on a hot summer day,” she suggests. Also remember to pack snacks, sunscreen, and other summer essentials each day. Most of all, enjoy yourself, says Danielle. “Get ready to have some fun being active and meeting new people!”