2012-06_TennisCamp - Images by The Harker School
Students have flocked again to the Oakwood Tennis Center for this year’s Harker tennis camp, which are open to students in grade 2-11 of nearly any skill level.
The two tennis programs, Harker Summer Tennis Camp (HSTC) and the Harker-Oakwood Tennis Training System (HOTTS), cover a wide range of skill levels and techniques. Harker tennis coach Craig Pasqua, certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association and a coach for 14 years, heads both programs.
With HSTC students, he said, “We want to teach them a sound fundamental base, although with a modern twist.” Beginners still learn the primary forehand, backhand, serve and volley strokes, but they are also introduced to some slightly more advanced concepts. “I start teaching the kids right away how to hit rotational forehands, rotational backhands as well as traditional forehand and backhand,” he said. “When I learned how to play, and all the coaches learned how to play, there was one method, and that was you took the racket back, you stepped into the shot and your weight propelled your momentum. Today most pros play differently. They don’t hit that way anymore. They use a more rotational, or angular, force.”
This technique, he said, creates more spin and is more effective at concealing the kinds of shots a player makes. It also makes it easier for younger players to hit balls that are hit above their heads.
At the intermediate level, students still concentrate on the basic skills, but also learn how to take better control of their muscle groups to get the most out of each hit, using what is known as the kinetic chain. “The better a tennis player you are, the more opportunities you have to develop and expand your kinetic chain,” Pasqua said. “You start by pushing against the ground when you hit a stroke, and you push up through your legs, certainly using your waist and your hips as you rotate and then eventually to your arm with the racket.”
The HOTTS program is meant for competitive players who wish to learn the more advanced aspects of tennis. “It’s a technical tactical and conditioning program for our up-and-coming competitive players. Many of our players already play tournaments,” Pasqua said. Students in this program train for actual in-game situations and participate in interclub matches. “We feel that realistic engagement is going to lead to better performance when they get in actual game situations.”
What’s important to Pasqua however, is that the students have fun and maintain a healthy respect for the game. Additionally, all of the coaches in the program have college degrees and have played at the college level. “The coaches are very respectful and very supportive of the players,” he said. “We don’t yell at any of the kids. We teach tennis how we want to be taught.”
Joshua Valluru, an incoming student who starts grade 5 in the fall, has enjoyed the camp so far, as much for its educational value as for the opportunity to make new friends. “It’s really fun because since I can socialize with the Harker students, I can get an idea what it’s going to be like when I enter fifth grade,” he said.
In accordance with the camp’s aims, Valluru said the most important thing he learned was “to have fun and not take the sport too seriously because you’re not going to become a good tennis player if you’re always under pressure, so I’ve learned that if you take the sport in a fun way then you’ll become better at it.”