Some like it HOTTS: The Harker/Oakwood Tennis Training System, geared toward high-level players, is the perfect next step for students with good fundamentals who are preparing for competitive play.
HOTTS and tennis camp are both offered in Harker’s tennis program. The camp, which began in 2002, focuses on skills for beginning and intermediate players. In 2004, HOTTS was founded as an additional offering. Both operate at the Oakwood tennis courts located less than a block from Blackford. With the two programs, Harker is able to offer a summer tennis experience to players of all skill levels that is both challenging and fun.
The goal of tennis camp is to give athletes a strong foundation in the fundamentals of the game. Each camp runs every weekday for one week. Students begin the day learning skills and follow up with games and competitions that emphasize the techniques they’ve learned.
Craig Pasqua, tennis program director, explains that the first day of camp is spent talking about backhand and forehand, and showing participants how to stroke the ball. “They use low compression balls–softer tennis balls that are much more forgiving, allowing beginning and intermediate players to play a competitive game while working on skills,” he says.
The HOTTS program is for more advanced students, and this year there were around 30 students each week, elementary through high school. They filled all five courts and had the advantage of a wide range of competitors and plenty of court time.
Because HOTTS is aimed at higher-level players, a typical day involves complex drills and games, following a weekly cycle of instruction and drills three days and competitions on Thursday (boys) and Friday (girls). By devoting an entire day to matches with clubs from around the area, players have a chance to gain valuable competition experience “that can be hard to obtain outside of extremely competitive tournaments,” says Pasqua. “For many of the kids in the HOTTS program, this is the first time they have ever played a competitive match.”
Elizabeth Schick, Gr. 5, chose HOTTS to give her a competitive edge. “I just started playing tournaments and I’ve been playing a lot of people who have lots of experience, so I just wanted to get some more match experience,” she says. Her sentiment was seconded by Niel Movva, Gr. 8, who has been attending the HOTTS program, with his brother, for three years.
Every year the HOTTS group goes on a field trip in addition to their weekly practices. This year students attended a special daylong program at the Bank of the West Tennis Classic, a Women’s Tennis Association tournament held at Stanford. Approximately 600 students from around the Bay Area, including the Harker group, spent the day playing tennis-style games, meeting players, getting autographs and watching the matches. In addition, explains Pasqua, “students got to sit down and talk with a pro or some other tennis leader.” Last year that leader was Pasqua himself, who graduated from Stanford after playing tennis there.
Harker enlists top coaches to run their tennis programs. Pasqua currently coaches both girls and boys varsity tennis at the upper school. He is supported at the camp and at HOTTS by coaches Adam Lucero and Seydou Traore, both of whom are also accomplished competitors. Lucero, who has been coaching for three years, recently graduated from UC-Santa Cruz, where he played tennis. He will join Harker as JV girls tennis coach for the 2010-11 school year. Traore, a professional player from France who is Harker’s JV boys coach, is acquainted with many of the French professional players and has even played in tournaments with internationally known Rafael Nadal.
As always with Harker’s summer sports programs, emphasis is on gaining solid skills while providing a learning-friendly environment. To that, end Coach Pasqua and his staff bring their best game!