Tennis Carnival Serves Up Fun For Youngsters

OSWEGO, NY – Elementary school age youngsters got to show off their tennis skills and win some neat prizes over the weekend.

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Arin Wendt follows through as she returns a serve.

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.

The USTA Summer Tennis Program began in 2006 and 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 Megan Andolina, coordinator of the USTA Tennis Program at the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.

This is her sixth year with the program.

Two AmeriCorps members, Adam Wolford and Leigh Bergman, are working with the program.

“This is my second summer as a tennis instructor with AmeriCorps. I played tennis for Fulton high school for three years. Leigh Bergman has been an AmeriCorps member for three summers and also played for the Fulton tennis team in high school,” Wolford  explained.

After soaking their foam tennis balls, a couple of youngsters race back to fill thier cups.
After soaking their foam tennis balls, a couple of youngsters race back to fill their cups.

As AmeriCorps members, they educate youth fitness, he added.

The Oswego City-County Youth Bureau has been offering the United States Tennis Association Summer Tennis Program since 2006.

The Youth Bureau’s partnerships with the AmeriCorps program, local recreation programs and school districts, have allowed the tennis program to visit 15 different sites in the county each summer.

Three USTA trained staffers instruct one-hour sessions, once a week, using tennis-related activities to introduce children to the game.

“The main objective of the program is to have kids get some exercise and have fun,” Wolford said.

Alexis Williams uses both hands to send the ball back over the net.
Alexis Williams uses both hands to send the ball back over the net.

“It’s a lot of fun. I like playing tennis,” said Alexis Williams as she hit a few volleys with on of the volunteers. “Sometimes, it’s hard to hit the ball.”

“We have been doing lessons this summer at Riley Elementary on Wednesday afternoons,” Wolford said. “We have one lesson left for the summer, next Wednesday (Aug. 10) afternoon from 1-2.”

The youngsters earned prizes like jump-ropes, hats, sunglasses and more for competing at different skill areas.

They had to return a serve and hit one of several prizes on the opposite side of the net and hit targets 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.

For more information about the USTA Summer Tennis Program, contact Andolina at 349-3451 or email: [email protected]