Oh Tennis Camp… how you’ve changed


Does anyone else remember going to Tennis Camp? The greatest bastion of mothers everywhere during the school holidays. The difference in doing it early 80’s western suburbs style and 2010 in the northern suburbs of Sydney are poles apart. (But I suspect equally as boring.)

My tennis camp days rekindle memories of hot, long dusty days in Richmond NSW. We were promptly delivered half an hour earlier than the commencement time so mum could get a head start on her plant hire deliveries. I do not think she even slowed the Hi-Ace down that much. Me and my brother and sister standing there with a brown paper bag each containing a vegemite sandwich wrapped in cling film. The banana was filed directly into the bin and we joined our tribes, promising to tease each other throughout the day if we caught sight of one another.

The “coaches” were a ragged bunch of high school drop outs who were far more interested in making out with each other and listening to Duran Duran on their walkmans. I cannot actually remember playing any tennis whatsoever. I can remember the older group used us to play brandings a lot though. We spent our 20 cents at the canteen on a paddlepop and some toobs. We drank from the bubbler. We suffered third degree burns from the sun. We got stung by mozzies and complained a lot. Then mum would toot from the carpark and we were off home, just to do it all again tomorrow.

My son H was lucky enough to come through the wait list at our local Tennis “Academy” and took his place alongside the Hugo’s, Emily’s and Williams this week to learn the gentile and social art of tennis. Tennis whites optional but preferred.

The coaches really are coaches! Aged from 25 though to about 60, they wear smart uniforms and carry white drink bottles. Most have played on “the circuit” at some point. It is very different to school holidays in Richmond.

If you do not have a hat, DOCS is called. Sunscreen is applied every 2 hours. Water bottles are mandatory. Everyone has their own raqcuet which looks like it is not from Target. Real Raquets. Lunches are carried in small insulated bags with all food groups accounted for. Or you may order from a selection of gourmet wraps and foccacias. Fancy a fresh berry smoothie with that?

So I take H up each day and park the Mazda next to the BMW’s. He spends his time working on his grip, backhand, smash and volley. His serve is videoed to be assessed and analysed with him one on one during a break. He studies stroke correction and has an impressive knowledge of the current seeds. He is 6.

It is starting to affect his behaviour. Last night he requested a headband. And wrist bands. I said “Not until you make the Davis Cup Team my sweet!” His persistence was magnified until I cut up one of his singlets from when he was a baby and fashioned it into the required accessories. Nike can go Suck It! If this fashion takes off, I will do the voice over for the ad.

I have high hopes for young H. I hope he has early success and married a dim but simple soap star and moves to suburbia with a stretch hummer. I am looking forward to taking my place on centre court to watch him in January, next year.