Affordable tennis? You bet!

Published 3:01 am Monday, March 27, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Most people do not play tennis for two reasons: they don't know how to and it is very expensive. Afterall, a one-hour private lesson can cost around $63 and a normal six-week class can cost around $200.
So, where should you turn if you don't have the money or experience, but want to play tennis? The Lakeland Athletic Club!
For the first year ever, Lakeland is holding the Niles Junior Tennis Clinic, a six-week program for kids ages 7-17. This clinic teaches children the basics and fundamentals of the game. And better yet, it only costs $40 per child or $70 per family for the entire clinic.
Ficks, along with the voluntary help of Cassopolis High School tennis coach Scott Marshall and Buchanan assistant tennis coach Janie Colton, are giving children the chance to learn the game of tennis at a very affordable price. The kids are taught by playing a number of fun games and drills. They also receive t-shirts and are treated to pizza after the clinic.
Sponsors like Richs Pizzaria, who donated all of the pizza's, Unique Designs, who created the t-shirts at a heavily discounted price and the Optimist Club and Majerek's Hallmark, who each donated money.
The Junior Clinic had 110 kids sign up, the most any clinic in this area has ever seen. Children came from Edwardsburg, Buchanan, Dowagiac, St. Joseph and other surrounding areas just to get a chance to play.
Parents are able to work out while their child is participating in the clinic for only $5 and also receive money off of a private lesson.
Parents also don't have to worry about purchasing a racquet, as those are donated by the Athletic Club.
If you're a person with a lot of experience and don't need the ‘basics and fundamentals' the clinic is also open to you as well. Ficks stated that they have local and midwest USTA ranked individuals who join in, which “is a huge bonus for us,” Ficks added.
But Ficks is no stranger to the tennis scene himself. He, along with Dave Campbell, have over 35 years of combined experience teaching tennis. They are both USPTA certified professionals with collegiate playing experience. They have worked with all levels of players, including many sectional and national ranked juniors. They have match experience against world class professionals and have trained at some of the finest camps in the United States.
Needless to say, your children are being taught by some of the best coaches in the area.
If your child missed their chance to sign up for this clinic, there is no need to worry. Lakeland Athletic Club is holding another one this summer, which begins on June 21. The classes will be held outdoors on Wednesday evenings, with the same cost being offered.
Adults, don't feel left out. A Beginner Adult Tennis Clinic will begin on April 3. The price is $40 per person or $70 for a married couple. This is also a six-week clinic, with classes being held every Monday night from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
For more information on the clinic, please call the Lakeland Athletic Club at 684-8030.