An excited group of budding tennis players took to the courts on Summerhill Road this week for the beginning of the Spotswood Recreation Department’s annual tennis program. Participants from ages eight through 14 registered to receive hour-long lessons twice a week for a month. Lesson groups are determined by age and the lessons are taught by members of the Recreation Department’s staff, which includes instructors, Alec Grant, AJ Hill, and Devin Ryan.

Grant and Hill played high school tennis with Hill taking the courts for the Spotswood Chargers and Grant for East Brunswick High School. Both Grant and Hill, students at Rutgers University, have taught the summer program previously. For Ryan, a sophomore at SHS and current member of the Chargers girls’ tennis team, it was her first taste of teaching the sport for the Spotswood Recreation Department.

The initial morning session on June 14 began with a group of mostly fourth and fifth graders who started off the lesson with stretching before Grant, Hill and Ryan began teaching the basics of the forehand and the volley. As the children took turns trying the strokes, their instructors showed them the proper positioning and form, giving pointers and words of encouragement.

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The kids didn’t seem to mind when the balls didn’t do exactly what they were supposed to do and were all smiles when it was time to collect the balls for another round. Their session concluded with a lively game of Elimination as the next group of older students watched, waiting for their turn.

Overall, the program had a nice turnout of participants with each session averaging about seven to 11 students.

“The program gives kids an introduction to the sport that includes a taste of everything from ground strokes on up,” Grant explained.

The former East Brunswick High School doubles player seemed very excited about the program since tennis is generally not a sport that gets a great deal of exposure at the youth level. Most children are more apt to sign up for soccer, baseball or basketball than tennis.

“It gives kids who might not normally be exposed to the sport an opportunity to play,” Grant said.

The tennis program is offered every summer by the Spotswood Recreation Department.Registration is done online and usually begins in May for the summer programs. However, they offer year-round sports and activities as well.