June 25, 2007
Emory summer tennis camp in 40th year of serving kids
by amber jackson
“40-Love” seems a fitting name for the final year of Emory Tennis Camp, which has introduced thousands of children to the game of tennis for 40 years. The day camp caters to children, ages 5 to 15, of different skill levels by teaching the basics to beginners and challenging the more advanced participants to improve and reach an even higher skill level.
“We help them advance with their age,” said instructor Tim Schroer, whose father Don Schroer started the camp in 1968 as the new coach of the Emory’s men’s tennis team.
Don Schroer, who is currently associate professor of physical education at Emory, and co-founder Tom Johnson, former Emory head soccer coach, formed the Emory Tennis Camp in response to the lack of tennis camps in the Atlanta area. Schroer said it was a success from the beginning, serving kids from around the metro Atlanta area. Now, 40 years later, the camp primarily serves children in the Emory community because there are now many tennis camps in the metro area.
Yet Emory Tennis Camp is still a big part of young lives in Atlanta. The camp remains an important component to the tennis careers of Graham Mellen, 15, and Josh Weston, 13.
“This camp is my base of operation,” said Weston. Weston has been coming to the camp since he was 5, and while he considers all his other tennis outlets very influential to his game, he said the Emory Tennis Camp is the most important. Mellen has been a part of the camp since age 7 and said he is sad to see it end, and disappointed that his younger brother will not get to grow up with the camp. “I’ve been here half of my life,” Mellen said. “I didn’t know how to play and they taught me. I’ve really improved.”
The camp is both about learning to play tennis and having fun. Simply put by Schroer, the campers wouldn’t come back if they weren’t having fun. The sport can be frustrating and hard to learn at times, Schroer said, but the camp offers quality instructors and a program that is dedicated to teaching all aspects of the game. After the tennis instruction in the morning, participants enrolled in the “Computers plus Tennis” component spend three hours in the afternoon learning about computer programs, the Internet and computer graphics.
When asked what he hopes the children have gotten out of the 40 years of the Emory Tennis Camp, Schroer replied, “The love of the sport.” Tennis is lifetime sport that people can always play, he said. “It is a game that we can play when we are 80 and 90. You just can’t do that with other sports.”
Schroer said that the best thing about running the camp is the “satisfaction of knowing we did a good job and the satisfaction of contributing to tennis.”
He did not cite a specific reason for retiring the camp, but indicated that after 40 years it seemed like the right time. However, children in the Emory area don’t have to go far to find another tennis camp. Young tennis players can sign up for the Emory Eagles Total Tennis Summer Camp offered on the Clairmont Campus.
As for Schroer, he can still be seen around campus teaching tennis and racquetball.