By Jean DePlacido
---- — The All-Court Tennis Camp, held at the Pingree School courts in South Hamilton, offers something for everyone.
Now in its 10th year, the All-Court Tennis Camp features many instructors who former campers. The first of their five weekly sessions begins Monday.
Camp director Eric Olson has been a tennis coach at Pingree for the past 18 years, first with the boys and the past two seasons with the girls. Many instructors are former Pingree and Hamilton-Wenham Regional athletes, and several former campers are now making an impact on tennis courts at the high school and college level.
“Many counselors keep coming back to teach here year after year because we love working with kids, enjoy the opportunity to teach campers more about tennis and because of our love for the sport,” said Brian Rodgers, a member of the University of South Carolina club tennis team. He was a former Hamilton-Wenham captain, where he played second singles and was a Cape Ann League All-League player. Rodgers has worked at the camp for the last four years.
Other counselors include Spencer Collins from Hamilton-Wenham, a former CAL All-League first doubles player; former Pingree captains Anders Olson (now a member of the Northeastern club team) and Ingrid Olson; ex-Pingree first singles star and captain Tim Knowles; and Pingree captain and first singles player Hayden Steward, who will play Division 1 tennis at Quinnipiac.
“Tim, Anders, Ingrid and Nate Olson keep coming back to teach here year after year,” said Rodgers.
“Tennis is a sport you can play at any age; I first became serious about the sport after going to All-Court as a camper. I hope to foster the same love for the sport that I found here in others. Hopefully, some of them will continue to play in high school or college as I have.”
Campers ages 5-15 come from all over the North Shore to either the full day program (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and half-day sessions from 8:30 a.m. to noon or 1-4:30 p.m.
A Tots Program offers short day instruction for toddlers ages 3-5, and there is also an advanced student afternoon program for competitive tennis playing teens up to 16 years of age. Smaller courts, lower nets and low bounce balls are used for younger players to creatively teach the game and allow for rapid success.
“I’ve attended this camp since I was in third grade, and I’m now going into my sophomore year in high school,” said Annabel Rutherford, who played varsity tennis for Hamilton-Wenham this spring and plans to continue playing at Bass River Club during the offseason. “I kept coming every summer because what I really love is the environment. Everyone is open and willing to help and teach in a way that is easy to understand. I’ve grown as a player thanks to this camp.”
On rainy days, campers watch video of their swing and break it down with help of instructors. They also practice rallying and volleying in the gym and play table tennis to practice spin.
“This is a big year because (of) the 10th anniversary,” said Rodgers. “All-Court is unique because of the 1-to-4 staff-to-camper ratio to meet individual needs. Campers are put in groups with kids their age and ability. We mix important drills to teach fundamentals with games and exercises.”
This summer, Pingree coaches Todd Nolan and Jon Gistis have been added to the staff.
Rodgers said campers love to play a volleying game called Star Wars and Jailbreak. The camp partners with Sports Stop tennis shop in Wenham, and every Friday the ‘Racket Doctor’ makes a visit to give kids a chance to try out rackets and grips.
July sessions start on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. For further information go to www.allcourttennis.net.