Tennis camps gave kids a safe sport to play during the summer

Tennis camps at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport were sold out all summer as the staff saw the sport’s popularity grow

ROCKPORT, Maine — Kids of all ages and skill levels had one more day on the court in Rockport Thursday. The final day of the tennis camp hosted by the Midcoast Recreation Center.

Even with the uncertainty surrounding youth and high school sports this summer, this camp was still able to operate for weeks by implementing plenty of safety guidelines. 

For starters, each camp session was limited to ten kids. Each session was sold out with plenty of tennis fans on the waitlist.

Camp director Seth Meyer and coaches Eric Lee and Lena Rich wore masks every time they couldn’t maintain social distance from each other or the campers.

“It takes a lot more work to kind of pull some of these things off and I give my coaches so much credit because they’ve done a fabulous job under what are harder than usual conditions,” Meyer said.

“You have to be a little bit more directive than normal because kids will be kids, but everything worked out in the end, it ended up being super fun,” Lee added.

The growth and interest surprised Meyer at the beginning of the summer, but the safe nature of tennis allows the game to be played even in these less than normal times.

“People sort of realized tennis is sort of a great social distancing sport. It is safe, the social distance aspect is built into the game which really gives us some good prospects moving forward,” Meyer said.

The camp allowed for kids to get out of the house and get some exercise for a few hours every day.

“I think they really needed this, they deserved it,” Rich mentioned.

Giving local kids a sport to play and something to do is also important for the future of tennis in Maine. Rich played in high school and college and added learning the basic skills now can help kids as they advance in their playing careers.

Lee has worked with varsity programs in the past and said due to the short tennis preseason in Maine, any experience kids can get before they reach high school is important.

“Then they’re kind of more ready to hit the ground running and get into a short season of Maine tennis, high school tennis,” he added.

Tennis isn’t the only sport with built-in social distancing. Golf courses across the state have seen an increase in popularity as well.

“Of 122 courses in the state of Maine, golfers have enjoyed a resurgence if you will,” Brian Bickford, the Executive Director of the Maine State Golf Association, said.

Bickford added many courses saw unusually busy days in the spring. A combination of great weather and the lack of other activities drew newcomers to the game.

Bangor Municipal Head Golf Professional Rob Jarvis said all the junior programs run through the course were well attended.

“They were super successful, the kids were excited to get, do something, some of them tried something new and some of them reengaged a sport they learned last year,” Jarvis added.

As the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) prepares to make its final decision on the fall sports season, which will be announced no later than August 27, these low-risk sports have a chance to be played when sports like football or soccer may be sidelined.

RELATED: Maine Principal’s Association delays final announcement for fall sports plan

Bickford also works with the MPA’s golf committee. He said there is a possibility of tennis, golf, or cross-country getting the go-ahead to play this fall. 

“If no other sports, then maybe those two or three could possibly go,” Bickford said. 

Regardless of what the MPA’s decision is, the kids in Rockport and other tennis and golf camps around the state had fun and hopefully learned a thing or two. 

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