Choosing the Right Tennis Summer Camp

This post is brought to you by our friends at Nike Tennis Camps, who want to help you choose the right tennis summer camp for your son or daughter.

Summer is around the corner and as a parent of three, I too, am trying to figure out where to send my kids to summer camp this year.  Near or far, the options seem to be endless and at times, it’s hard to find something specific for each child’s needs and interests.  So, whether your child is new to tennis or has been playing for years, here are a few helpful hints on how to choose the right camp for your camper:

Location.  Starting with some basics, are you looking for something nearby? Or a camp while you’re on a family trip? In state or out of state?  Begin with a simple search: “Nike Tennis Camps in [insert state]” or go to www.ussportscamps.com and use the map guide in the top right hand corner.  There are over 80 Nike Tennis Camp locations (along with 250 other sport locations) across the United States. The following info will help you narrow the options.

Day Camp vs. Overnight Camp.  This is a big question for many, and ultimately may be determined best by your campers age or readiness for sleepaway camp.  However, if your camper is looking to immerse themselves in tennis, get the full campus life experience, make new friends and create lasting memories, an overnight camp session is the best.  Overnight camps usually run weekly from Sunday through either Thursday or Friday.  The curriculum is a perfect blend of expert instruction, supervised match play and fun off court activities.  In addition, campers get to experience the day-to-day life on a college or prep school campus – live in the dorms, eat in the cafeterias and walk around campus.  Many sites include a variety of team competitions throughout the week and/or nightly themed activities for additional camp fun.  These camp sessions are a great fit for both the “first timer” looking to test out sleepaway camp, or the repeat camper who comes year after year to continue to improve their game, make lasting friendships and have “Serious. Fun.”

Day camps typically run Monday through Friday 9am-4pm (times vary by site) and consist of both a morning session (drilling and point play) and afternoon session (match play).  Day only camps are a great option for a kid who wants to get a lot of court time but stay close to home. Geared for all skill levels, day only camps offer the same high-level instruction as the overnight camps, but without the “campus life” experience.

Many of the overnight camp locations offer a day only component or even an extended day camp option (includes lunch and dinner and evening activities), so be sure to check out the details for each location.

Type of Program.  This can be a tricky one for parents as we all want to be sure the camp is a good “fit” for our child’s ability level.  The good news – all of these camps typically attract players of all ability levels and ages, so there is an option for everyone.  But, if trying to narrow your options based on level or age, here are some basic guidelines to the programs offered:

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All Skill Levels 

Geared towards young athletes of all ability levels. Campers will be evaluated on the first day and placed into groups based on their age and ability. Includes concentrated work to develop the proper fundamentals and includes a mix of drilling and match play.

Tournament Training 

If you have a tournament level player and want to be sure the competition is right for your child, choose one of the tournament training sessions.  Geared towards (USTA) tournament level and ranked players looking to improve tournament results, learn winning strategies and increase mental toughness. Includes additional focus on match play, strategy, conditioning and tournament preparation.

High School (ages 13-18) 

If your camper is most excited about being at camp with other high school aged kids, choose one of the high school sessions.  Geared toward high school players (and incoming freshmen) with aspirations of making the high school team, moving up the ladder or improving tournament results. Includes additional focus on match play, strategy and conditioning. Similar to Tournament Training sessions, but limited to ages 13-18 only and does not presume that all players participate in (USTA) tournaments.

10 & Under Tennis (ages 5-10)

This is an exciting new way kids 10 and under are learning to play tennis as well as compete. The courts are smaller and balls are low-compression so they are easier to hit, allowing kids to get to the ball and develop optimal swing patterns.

 Last, but certainly not least, do your homework and call or email with questions!  Whether you’d like to find out more about the director, staff, dorm configuration, food options, ages of campers already enrolled, whatever it may be, call 1-800-645-3226 and ask to speak to a sport representative.  You can also email us at tennis@ussportscamps.com. At the end of the day, you want to find a camp that your child is excited about and is a place you feel comfortable with. The Nike Tennis Camps motto: SERIOUS. FUN.

USTA Mid-Atlantic provides summer camp scholarships to families of need. The application can be found here, and the deadline to apply has been extended to April 24.