Tennis camp brings children out for learning, fun

LEARNING THE GAME: Ferris State University Associate Athletic Director Jon Coles and Taylor Chatel watch a tennis ball Chatel hit go across the tennis court on Wednesday during a tennis camp going on at Hemlock Park. (Pioneer photos/Eric Dresden)

BIG RAPIDS — Children played their own variation of the popular Angry Birds game on Wednesday night.

They didn’t play on a smart phone or tablet, but rather they tried to hit plush pigs set up on the Hemlock Park tennis courts.

The Big Rapids Community Tennis Association led a tennis camp for children from Monday to Thursday.

Ferris State University Associate Athletic Director Jon Coles and Professional Tennis Management administrative assistant Collin Cadwell taught the classes.

“Our sole job is to introduce kids to tennis and make it fun in hopes that they’ll continue to play, continue to take lessons and sign up for leagues,” Coles said.

The week was full of experiences, including one child declaring themselves a life-long tennis player, he said.

“We hope to give kids that itch to keep playing and rope them in to a life-long sport,” Coles said.

What’s more, the kids got to experience it on newly refurbished tennis courts.

City Commissioners approved spending $15,250 on June 17 to clean, repair and resurface of the courts. Before, some community members referred to it as the “Grand Canyon of tennis” because of major cracks that could interrupt play or cause injury.

Blended lines on the courts were added for youth tennis and pickleball players.

Public Works Director Mark Gifford said searching for grants to completely redo the tennis courts didn’t work, but something needed to be done. It would cost at least $60,000 to completely redo the four courts, he added.

Gifford expects the repairs to last at least five years, possibly longer. After that, a decision will have to be made to relocate or rebuild the asphalt surface.

Cadwell called the improvements “incredible.”

“It took care of trip hazards and safety concerns that were becoming an issue out here,” he said.

The BRCTA plans to continue the camp annually.

“We plan on making sure we have offerings every single summer to introduce kids to the game of tennis,” Cadwell said.

To contact the BRCTA, email bracta49307@gmail.com.

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