The Tennis Courts at Sandals South Coast were recently abuzz with the faint smashing of racquets and tennis balls. This time, however, it wasn’t tennis enthusiasts vacationing at the award-winning resort; instead, it was youths from the surrounding communities participating in the Sandals South Coast Youth Tennis Clinic pilot project.
The three-day clinic, which brought the curtains down on the summer holidays, targeted 15 to 18-year-olds from the Whitehouse, Culloden, and Bluefields communities, eager to learn a new sport.
“Tennis is a very enjoyable game, but it may remain beyond the reach of many youngsters living in rural communities,” said Sandals South Coast Public Relations Manager, Rochelle Forbes-Reid, whose office was instrumental in organizing the clinic. “We want to introduce more youngsters on the South Coast to the sport and start a conversation about the development of facilities and a structure in which the sport can flourish in this area.”
During the clinic, Sandals South Coast Resident Tennis Pro, Normal Hall took the participants through several tennis basics. Starting each session with recommended warm-up stretches, he then proceeded to manoeuvring of the racquet, foot positioning, and serving techniques including proper technique for a groundstroke, volley, serve and lob.
On the final day of the clinic, participants were engaged in a singles competition with a winner and first runner-up identified.
“I was impressed with how quickly some of the participants grasped the concepts and could seemingly put them into practice,” said Hall, a 35-year veteran tennis pro and instructor, who has played competitively in the United States, Germany and England. He noted that despite participating heavily in youth tennis clinics in the past in Kingston and Montego Bay, this was his first time conducting a clinic of this nature at the resort and on this side of the island.
“From day one I could spot the natural talents in the group and the students were very disciplined,” he said. “I would love to see this programme extended to more kids in the region as I’m very passionate about tennis and I would love nothing more than to see more youngsters in rural areas playing the sport and taking advantage of the myriad of benefits it offers.”
For Rojay Maylor, a student of the Mannings School, the experience at the tennis clinic was great and he was very grateful to Sandals South Coast for the opportunity. “I had a chance to meet new people and enjoy myself before school reopens. Since some of us had not played tennis before, the clinic presented another avenue for a viable pastime and career option.”
Belmont Academy student, Cheyanne Jackson also expressed sincere gratitude for the experience. “Learning anything new requires commitment and being able to push through the uncomfortable feeling of not being good enough at that particular thing until you achieve a level of competency. While on this journey a little motivation goes a long way,” she said. She expressed thanks to the event’s organizers for giving her the opportunity to experience something new and the added motivation to push forward both in the game and in life. “I enjoyed my experience and appreciate the wonderful service that was extended to us and them [resort] going above and beyond to ensure that we were ok.”
For yet another participant, Khamiela Atlan, also from Belmont Academy, despite being only three days, the clinic did wonders. “I had no idea how to hold a racquet much more how to play tennis, but over the three days, I learned so much and the activities, including the motivational sessions, were exciting. It was also my first time being at a hotel.”
In addition to the tennis sessions, participants were engaged by the resort’s Learning and Development team in motivational sessions that focused on the power of positive thinking. During these sessions they were encouraged to have an abundance mindset, to capitalize on their own uniqueness, and to bring energy to all aspects of their lives while being steadfast and focused to achieve explosive results.
The Youth Tennis Clinic is just one way in which Sandals South Coast continues to nurture a connection with various groups within the community and aid in development within the region.
Over the years the resort has also organized performing arts, literacy, and environmental camps during the summer months targeting children from the surrounding communities.