NEWBERRY — Since 1998, the Clinton-Laurens-Newberry Tennis Association has held a youth camp to get young people interested in the sport of tennis and lead active lives.
“We started the Tennis Association in 1997, and we started the youth camps almost immediately. The first camp was held in the summer of 1998, so the camp has been with the association since the beginning,” said Martha Wilder, co-founder of the association.
Wilder started the association with her husband after seeing a pair of boys playing their version of tennis at the Clinton YMCA.
“They were playing tennis with two baseball gloves, using those as rackets. My husband and I decided that we needed something to give youths of all backgrounds — the ability to learn and play the game,” she said.
Youth who participate in the camp only pay $10. According to Wilder, they don’t charge much because they want to give every child a chance. They also offer a scholarship program for any child that cannot afford the camp, but has a desire to participate. The association also provides the equipment.
“We hold the Mac Harrison Memorial Round Robin earlier in the year, and all the proceeds go toward the camp,” Wilder said.
On average, the association draws about 30 youths between both camps.
The Association holds two camps, one in Laurens at the Laurens City Park and one in Newberry at Newberry College. The camp in Laurens is coached by Laurens High School coaches avid Corley and Scott Horner.
The camp in Newberry is coached by Newberry College head tennis coach Mark Gardiner. At the Newberry Camp, Gardiner has three tennis players, Elise Mills, Madyson Murphy and Gabrielle Sanders, from Mid-Carolina High School who assist him.
“I have been coaching the camp for three years. I knew Mac Harrison. He was a tennis enthusiast, and I support anything that has to do with him. I also support this camp because it is a sound way to support the kids,” Gardiner said.
Wilder believes the tennis camp is important because it gets youths involved with something that keeps them active.
“Children today think it is fun to stay inside and play with video games. When I grew up we had fun outside,” she said. “Tennis is a sport that the youths can play for the rest of their lives, and it is good for physical health and mental health.”
She also added that when you are on the court you can learn how to work issues effectively and be cordial with each other. Basically, tennis allows one to learn a lot of life skills on the court.