By Jeff Gard/jgsportsmedia.com
The Port Hope Racquet Club’s summer season is in full swing for players of all skill levels.
In fact, the latest session for lessons began on Tuesday, July 7 and more begin Thursday, July 9. There are beginner and intermediate levels for kids, with limited space remaining in one of the beginner groups while the others are full.
“Tennis is a ton of fun, especially for kids that like hitting a ball,” said Gillian Smith-Clark, who runs junior development for the club. “It’s a lot of great exercise, there’s strategy involved. You can play as singles or doubles, so you can play with a partner or you can play a game of singles against an opponent. There’s a lot of great benefits for kids physically and mentally and I think the kids just always have a great time out there.”
For details, including dates and times, about the lessons, visit www.phrc.ca. You can also register for programs right on the site or sign up for a waitlist if a program is currently full. The cost for registration, which includes four one-hour lessons, is $60 for non-members and $40 for members.
Seven-years-old would be the youngest age recommended to begin lessons as having the attention span for a one-hour lesson might be more challenging for younger children, Smith-Clark noted.
She’s glad the club can offer an activity for children at the Town Park Recreation Centre’s outdoor venue for tennis.
“It’s great to see them on the courts,” Smith-Clark said. “There’s isn’t a lot out there for kids right now. There’s not a lot of sports running, period. This is our second session of junior lessons that we’re starting. This summer is a little bit different. Other years we’ve just had lessons on Thursdays, but this year we’re doing them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
Smith-Clark said the club has “beginner lessons for adults, too, for either they’re completely new to the game or for maybe somebody who played 20 years ago and they want to get back into it.”
In normal years, the Racquet Club would begin its season in early May. This year it was delayed until the start of June once government approval was granted.
League play is Monday and Wednesday evenings.
“People with various levels of skill can come out and play and we mix them up and move them around so that’s something that runs through the summer,” said the club’s secretary Will Kennedy.
“The season’s kicked off quite well. I think people are really happy to get out.”
Of course, the competitive season will be quite different this year.
“Normally we run several tournaments, small ones and we run one larger charity tournament, but we’re just not able to do that this year,” Smith-Clark said. “We also normally run at least two tournaments for juniors, which we really can’t do.”
Fortunately, distancing is easy for tennis, but the club does have a long list of safety protocols, which can be found on its website.
“The municipality supplied hand sanitizing stations right outside the tennis court gates so everybody has to sanitize before they go in,” Smith-Clark said. “There’s no socializing in-between points or before and after. People just arrive for their match. With tennis you do stay physically distant most of the time.”
There’s also hand sanitizer that can be taken onto the court, especially for lessons. The club also has a special tube coaches use to pick up tennis balls during lessons so the players don’t have to.
“For league play, there’s fresh balls for every match and then the balls are sanitized and stored for three days afterwards and not used for anything else,” Smith-Clark said.
Doubles play is allowed, which is made easier to accommodate because the club has a league coordinator.
“We’re able to track during our leagues who’s on court as well which is helpful if we did have to trace anything,” Smith-Clark said. “There’s no high-fiving between points, there’s no handshakes. I know myself as a player that’s been a bit hard to get used to. I think everyone’s been very respectful of the rules.”
Meanwhile, Kennedy noted pickleball has continued to gain popularity as an indoor sport in Cobourg and Port Hope, but it will soon be moving outdoors as well. The club has an agreement with the Municipality of Port Hope to use one of the tennis courts for pickleball.
“It’s the fastest growing racquet sport in North America,” Kennedy said. “The court is about two-thirds the size of a tennis court and the rules are similar, obviously the net’s smaller and it’s a different ball than tennis. Participants are predominantly of the older generation, although there’s certainly younger people increasingly playing. It’s less running required, so if you’re getting a little older and your joints are getting a little harder to move, it’s been a great way to extend your racquet career.”
While the Port Hope Racquet Club already has a thriving badminton program in the winter, including recreational and competitive levels for junior players, interest is being sought for the possibility of indoor tennis during the winter months as well.
“We’ve had an increasing amount of interest from our members and from non-members inquiring about the availability of indoor tennis,” Kennedy said, adding there’s a project “to look at the interest and economic aspect of putting a bubble up to cover the courts for the winter, which would essentially be October through to April.”
Anyone interested in playing indoor tennis is encouraged to contact the club through the website so they have the interest noted.