OSWEGO, NY – Dozens of elementary school age youngsters got to show off their tennis skills and win some neat prizes recently.
A USTA Tennis Program carnival was held at the Riley Elementary School tennis court. More than two dozen young tennis players stopped by the court during the four-hour event.
Although the USTA Tennis Program started in 2006, this year is the seventh year for the Tennis Carnival, which began in 2007. It is run through the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
“We try to do games that introduce basic tennis skills and give the kids a chance to get outside and exercise,” explained Shane Evans, USTA Summer Tennis Coordinator at the Youth Bureau. “We finished with 28 kids (at the carnival), which is, if I remember correctly, a little more than what we had last year.”
Some AmeriCorps members are working with the program.
The Youth Bureau’s partnerships with the AmeriCorps program, local recreation programs and school districts have allowed the tennis program to visit different sites in the county each summer.
“The main objective of the program is to have kids get some exercise and have fun,” Evans said.
“I like playing tennis, it’s real fun,” said Jaret Hoffman as he hit a few volleys with one of the volunteers.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to hit the ball,” he admitted, but added that he’d like to be a tennis player when he grows up.
The youngsters earned prizes like jump-ropes, hats, sunglasses and more for competing at different skill areas.
They had to return a serve and try to get the ball to land in one of several circles on the opposite side of the net to win prizes; they also pummeled target dots on a wall during a serve accuracy challenge.
During the obstacle course, the youngsters had to control their tennis balls on their racquets as they navigated the route.
They also had to run with a “tennis ball” to a bucket of water and then race back to their cups with the soggy ball and squeeze it out into the cup. The first to overflow their cup won the challenge.
The carnival was a way to provide participants the chance to learn the basic skills of tennis and the thrill of competition while in a fun setting, according to Evans.
It was hosted by the Youth Bureau. Two new AmeriCorps members, Aericka Pawlikowski and Kaela Schimpf, coordinated the program.
“Pawlikowski, Schimpf and myself brought our tennis program to 14 different sites, including various recreation programs and town parks, this summer,” Evans said.