Past, present and future are all converging this week at the Duncan High School tennis courts. The purpose is to have fun as well as learn fundamentals in the sport of tennis.

Campers range from first to ninth grade, and are being instructed by Duncan head coach Phil Barnes, former DHS tennis players and current players. Drills are being conducted to work on serves, returns and all other parts of the game. The goal is to make the sport enjoyable while teaching technique.

“The main goal is to expose the kids to tennis,” Barnes said. “We want to make it fun so that they’ll learn about the game, but also so they will want to come back and play more.”

Helping to lighten the seriousness, drills such as knockout, king of the hill and bobsled are being conducted. These are activities that improve tennis skills, but are disguised as fun activities.

“We are doing drills so that they can have success,” Barnes said. “Tennis is a lot harder than it looks, so they need to learn how to play. We’re going to play tournaments, and will give out prizes so we’re going to have a good time this week while we are teaching skills.”

Campers are being taught by a number of experienced players. Two weeks removed from a 4A-state title, Sean Cobble is teaching what it takes to become a talented player. While feeding balls to campers, he is also instructing them on their approach to the ball and on their swings.

There are also instructors who have been away from Duncan for a while. DHS graduate Sheridan Samples worked with the youngest group of players Tuesday. She is a 2004 graduate who played tennis throughout high school. Samples is now a journalism major at the University of Oklahoma, but is enjoying her time being back on the courts to help the young campers and the tennis program.

“I loved playing tennis here in Duncan,” Samples said. “Its fun to come back and help with the future of the program.”

Other instructors include Kevin Harper, Travis Truax and Haley Orso. Harper has played junior college tennis for the past two seasons, and is looking to transfer to Cameron University to play, according to Barnes. Truax is at Oklahoma Christian University, and is its No. 5 singles player. Orso, is at Cameron University, and coached the Duncan Middle School this past season. Their experience on the court, along with their knowledge of the program is something that helps the campers as they play this week.

“Almost all the teachers have been in the camp themselves,” Barnes said. “It’s nice to tell the campers that the teachers have been where you are right now. It makes it easier to show them that they can be successful instead of just saying a name that they wouldn’t know.”

The camp has 55 players learning the sport on both sets of courts this week. The skill levels are mixed and the ages are varied, but the goal is the same for all. They want to learn to play, but also have a good time.

Jacob Street, who is in first grade at Horace Mann, said that he is having fun at camp because he is learning how to hit backhands and is playing games.

Duncan Middle School seventh grader Ashton Clark is enjoying the experience of the instructors, even though she doesn’t plan on playing organized tennis.

“The teachers are real good here,” Clark said. “I don’t play at middle school, but I like to play with my friends at home. It makes it better to know how to play.”

DHS 10th grader Amber Truax has the same intentions of learning, but isn’t letting camp slow down her social life.

“I’m having fun learning,” Truax said. “I also get to hang out with my friends while we’re playing.”

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