OSWEGO, NY â€“ Elementary school age youngsters got to show off their tennis skills and win some neat prizes over the weekend.
A USTA Tennis Program carnival was held at the Oswego High School tennis courts.
The USTA Summer Tennis Program began in 2006 and is run through the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
â€œWe try to do games that introduce basic tennis skills and give the kids a chance to get outside and exercise,â€ explained Megan Andolina, coordinator of the USTA Tennis Program at the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
This is my fifth year with the program. My first two years I was an AmeriCorps member, and now I am a county employee, she said.
This year, the two AmeriCorps members that are working with the program are Adam Wolford and Mary Katherine Clerkin (both age 18).
â€œWe travel to 15 different sites in the county and visit each site once a week for six weeks,â€ Andolina said. â€œWe end up working with a little more than 1,000 kids each summer. This is the third tennis carnival that we have conducted through our program.â€
â€œWe give out a lot of great prizes and we try to get the participants of our weekly sites to attend the carnivals each year,â€ Andolina said. â€œWe ended up having 12 participants. It was a much bigger success than last year.â€
â€œItâ€™s a lot of fun. I like playing tennis,â€ said Jacob Holmes.
â€œHeâ€™s very competitive. He loves sports, anything he can be involved in,â€ agreed his mother, Jamie.
â€œTennis is fun, but you have to watch the ball,â€ explained Jeffery Fragale.
The youngsters earned prizes like jump-ropes, hats, sunglasses and more for competing at six different skill areas.
They had to return a serve and hit one of several prizes on the opposite side of the net and hit a tennis ball through a Hula-Hoop, volley with one of the AmeriCorps members, and hit targets on a wall during a serve accuracy challenge.
They also had to run to the net, soak a â€œtennis ballâ€ in a bucket of water and then race back to the baseline and squeeze it out into a cup. The first two-man team to overflow their cup won the challenge.
During the obstacle course, the youngsters had to control their tennis balls as they navigated the route, and then hit it over the net at the end.
â€œWe have our last session of the summer in Oswego at the new Riley Elementary courts on Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 1-2 p.m.,â€ Andolina said. â€œThereâ€™s no registration or experience is necessary. And, weâ€™ll provide all the equipment.â€
For more information about the USTA Summer Tennis Program, contact Andolina at 349-3451 or email: [email protected]