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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Tennis Pro Jake Shoemake runs drills with junior tennis players on the Kingsdale Tennis courts last week. Another session of group lessons and two sessions of tennis camp are planned for this summer.

Young tennis players have choices this summer at the POA's tennis complex in Kingsdale Park. Both a summer camp and summer classes are taking place. Some players will do both.

The camp, scheduled for two more sessions, July 9 through 12 and July 30 through Aug. 2, is an all-day experience, tennis pro Jake Shoemake said. Each day begins at 10 a.m. Lunch is provided, and after 2 p.m. campers are welcome to move to the pool to cool off. Tennis camp is open to ages 6 to 18 and all levels of play are welcome.

The summer classes can be one day a week or two days a week and are divided by age. The youngest, "Ankle Biters," is designed for children 5 to 7 and a new session begins July 2 and lasts through the 26th. Ankle Biters meet at 9 a.m. and use a 36-foot court and special balls. Children will work on hand and eye coordination, footwork and some basic strokes.

At 10 a.m., ages 8 to 10, the Future Stars, take the court. They use a 60-foot court and orange balls. They will cover groundstrokes, footwork and games.

At age 11, kids can move into the oldest group, Tournament Prep, which takes over the court from 11 to 12:30. This class caters to players who are ready to start playing at level 5 tournaments. Stroke technique, strategy and match play will be covered and the class is limited to eight students.

Shoemake is preparing to start Junior Team Tennis, probably next spring. Tennis is growing in popularity among young people, he explained. He expects to draw tennis players from Bentonville as well as Bella Vista. Non-members pay a higher fee at the tennis center.

According to the USTA website, Junior Team Tennis can begin at age 6 and continue through high school. Many members of high school teams also play on a Junior team since extra time on the court is useful.

There are two tracks available nationally. One is Championship Junior Team Tennis, which provides teams the opportunity to advance to a national championship. The local track allows kids and team organizers to play on a local level with flexible structures.

There are already serious players among the junior age group in Bella Vista, Shoemake said. Some of them are already enrolled in private lessons and will be ready to play on high school teams.

Tennis is a lifetime sport, he said. Today's Ankle Biters can continue to play for the rest of their lives.

Size doesn't matter in tennis, only skill does, he explained. Practice and the tennis racket makes up for differences in height and build.

Sports on 07/04/2018

Print Headline: Tomorrow's tennis stars start at Kingsdale

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