Local camp helps youth through tennis

Published 12:05 am Friday, July 14, 2023

SALISBURY — The HOLLA! Eagles tennis camp that was rained out in May made up their missed dates this week. From Tuesday to Friday, tennis instructors and mentors from local nonprofit Future Scapes and Anson County-based nonprofit HOLLA! taught youth from Salisbury the ins and outs of the sport of tennis.

Children ranging from the ages of seven through 17 met at Salisbury City Park to receive tennis instructions from teachers such as former Livingstone College women’s tennis coach Gwen Jackson, current Livingstone assistant women’s coach John Daniels, and William Brown from the Charlotte Black Tennis Club.

The camp focuses on teaching youth from underserved communities in Salisbury and the surrounding areas the sport of tennis.

“We chose this sport because we see the benefits of tennis when it comes to shaping a young person’s character. Tennis is an independent sport, you play alone, so the kids can learn socialization skills. They also get to learn networking skills and make some lifelong partnerships with the sport,” said Alex Gaddy, an activities director with HOLLA.

Gaddy also said that the camp was free for all the youth who attended. HOLLA!, which stands for Helping Our Loved-Ones Learn and Achieve, relies on a partnership with the N.C. Tennis Foundation and individual donations to make the camp as well as sponsor youth to attend tennis summer camps on college campuses.

Jackson, who is also the founder of Future Scapes, said that following the end of this camp, the goal for the organization was to keep the kids engaged with tennis throughout the fall and winter until they can hold another camp next summer. Jackson already has informal camps on the schedule for fall where she plans to work with the youth on learning to play competitive tennis. She hopes that by next year some of the older children will be able to help teach newcomers to the camp.

For now, however, Jackson, Daniels and Brown are content to teach their first class of youth the basics of the sport of tennis in the hope that they can spread their love of the sport.

“There’s something about working with young kids, it just gives me adrenaline. I feel like I can’t let them see me sweat,” said Jackson