While people watch tennis professionals face off during the US Open in New York through Sept. 9, tiny tennis hopefuls in Secaucus just wrapped up their summer season of practice camp.
Forehand and backhand fundamentals
The six-week summer tennis camp program, which began on July 9, was free to residents and had 45 participants. Local resident Ed Protz, 53, who once played tennis for Secaucus High School, jumped at the opportunity to lead and coach the tennis camp after Recreation Director John Voli approached him with an interest in starting the program.
“I’m a tennis junkie,” said Protz. He has been playing since he was a child. “I got the bug…you can play this game until you are 95 years old.”
Protz said he particularly enjoys the individual nature of the game and that it isn’t dependent on a team of players.
“You are out here by yourself,” said Protz.
“I like tennis because you run a lot.” – Larue Linder
Protz taught the basic foundation for tennis such as how to hit the tennis ball, how to rally, how to serve and different types of ground strokes like the basic forehand and backhand.
Sets of siblings
On a sunny morning last week during the second to last day of the camp, three pairs of siblings were gathered on the high school tennis courts for a round of practice. Brothers Marcus and Larue Linder, sisters Amy and Katie Leroux, and sisters Nanki and Veeran Nagpaul stood on the court all with tennis racquets in hand, ready to test their skills.
Protz stood on one side of the court while the group lined up on the other side. The children took turns hitting the tennis balls as he served them over the net.
The coach’s love for the sport was contagious. Eight-year-old Amy Leroux said that Protz helped “get you real excited [about playing tennis].”
“It is fun,” said Amy Leroux. Her sister Katie agreed.
Seven-year-old Marcus Linder showed off his backhand. He had a particular enthusiasm for the sport and a sense of ease when it came to the basics.
“All you are doing is swinging a tennis racquet,” said Marcus Linder. At the end of the practice session he collected almost a dozen tennis balls and balanced them on his racquet before dumping them in the tennis ball hopper. His eight-year-old older brother Larue said he learned the forehand volley during summer camp.
“I like tennis because you run a lot. You hit balls and it is competitive,” said Larue. He shared that he wants to play tennis in the future.
For these pairs of siblings, the possibilities are endless. Sisters Venus and Serena Williams, who once started out playing tennis together on a public court in California as children, have won numerous titles. At this year’s Olympics, both took home gold medals.
Protz hopes the summer camp experience will feed talent into the athletic program available at the high school.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.