DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tennis campers part of new net generation

It’s the next generation of the net generation.

Some of the area’s young tennis players (fifth through ninth graders) are taking some early steps toward building their game with their participation in Xavier Prep’s annual summer camp  that began on Monday (June 3) and runs through Friday (June 7) at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center.

Xavier head coach Laurie Martin and assistant Ann Coover are implementing many of the aspects of the United States Tennis Association’s Net Generation program that was begun a few years ago.

The coaches, along with current Xavier player and volunteer Lorelei Glidden, give the eight  campers a few things to learn each day, stimulating their thought process, making the drills fun, meeting friends and becoming more familiar with the game.

There are four players who have had previous tennis instruction and four who have limited experience. The more experienced players use more pressurized traditional tennis balls while the others get more acclimated to slower tennis balls with hopes that will lead to more normalcy.

“The space for the (less experienced) girls is not as large, so that helps them until they can get used to the faster pace,’’ Martin said.

Sessions run from 7-9 a.m. to escape much of the heat. There are frequent water breaks.

A few of the girls are freshmen, and they might become part of Martin’s no-cut freshman program in the fall.

At the close of the session each day, Martin gathers the players in a circle and asked what they learned. They are given a different thing to focus on each day.

On this day, the subject was “play fair.’’

Another subject is resiliency.

“You have to be resilient because things aren’t always going to go your way,’’ Martin said.

Others are listening and respecting opponents as well as the game in general.

“These camps are kind of like our version of Pop Warner (football) and Little League (baseball),’’ Martin said. “We like to make it a good learning environment and give the girls things they can use as they get older and grow with the game.’’

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