Kids are exposed to the sport at an early age
After receiving a $6,000 grant in May from the United States Tennis Association to resurface the courts at 1800 Atlantic, Nicole Berger’s Paradise Tennis camps have been a big hit with local kids over the summer, including the free tennis carnival she hosted last Tuesday.
Twenty-seven junior tennis players, ages 5 to 15, of all abilities came out to try their hands at the swing. “The majority of the players had never played tennis before,” said Berger. “It was a great fun way to introduce tennis for the first time.”
Almost 20 of the tennis players came over from Bahama Village and were very eager to learn about the game. It’s a good age to learn the sport, she said. Berger started playing racquetball at 5 years old, but really got into tennis when she was old enough to ride her bike to her local tennis club around 11, spending all day hitting tennis balls. She has been teaching tennis for 14 years and moved to the Keys eight years ago.
The courts were broken up into different levels for the kids, including a red ball court for matches and practice, an orange ball court for fun games, and an obstacle course to see who could throw, kick, bounce and run through cones the quickest. The players received donated prizes, Pizza Hut pizza and drinks for participating.
“This was the first big event we’ve hosted since the court was resurfaced,” she said. “They look amazing.”
Summer tennis camps and clinics are still available for kids through July 31. The two-hour camps run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for 5 to 10-year-olds from 8 to 10 a.m. and for 11-plus-year-olds from 10 a.m. to noon for $25 a day, or $120 for six classes. Fall tennis will begin again in September.
Berger can be reached at 305-395-1035 or at [email protected] Schedules — including classes for adults like drill and play, cardio tennis, and match play — can be found at paradisetenniskeywest.com. She even offers toddler classes for children ages 18 months to 3 years old.
Nicole Berger was named the Pro of the Year for the Keys at the state United States Professional Tennis Association conference this summer. Some of her achievements include running a five-team, 60-player league that spans Duck Key to Key West; providing junior tennis programs in Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West that serve 60 to 100 kids every year; and regularly hosting match play and charity tournaments for avid tennis players in the Keys.
“I look at my job as a way to help mold children into great citizens through the sport of tennis,” she said. “The skills they learn on the tennis court can be taken with them throughout their life.”