Chase Polley, who just turned 5, makes his move. His spiked, reddish-toned hair doesn’t move as he has the latest look, but his arm whips the racket, sending the tennis ball across the net.
Then Bud Cox, YMCA tennis instructor, hits a ball to his backhand. And that’s how the workout goes for Chase and 19 other wannabe tennis stars at the Summer Junior Tennis Clinic.
Chase is in the Quickstart group for 4-to-7-year-olds. Following them are the Junior Academy players, those striving to become successful in middle school, high school and beyond.
There is conditioning involved, but Cox makes it fun. The younger players hit the tennis ball then run around the court as Cox tosses tennis balls at their feet. He calls them shooting stars and if one hits a player he or she goes “to jail.” Which means they sit on the side of the court until another player hits the tennis ball correctly and frees the jail bird.
At each age level Cox wants to make sure each player develops the basic tennis technique.
“There is no limitations on how far they can go and have fun,” he said.
Three of the players competed in their first tennis tournament last week.
Tatia Ghviniashvili, 13, slams a backhand, determined to improve to be a leader on the Marco Island Charter Middle School co-ed tennis squad. She’ll be an eighth grader this fall and wants to help keep the team’s 10-year unbeaten streak going.
Her favorite tennis star is Maria Sharapova.
“I want to really go far, earning a college scholarship and one day playing at Wimbledon,” she said.
She appreciates coach Cox.
“He is tough at times, getting us mentally prepared,” she said.
John Martin, 11, works on his backhand, saying that his serve and forehand are good. His favorite player is a name from the past, Bjorn Borg.
Maybe one day the YMCA wannabes will be mentioning their names as their favorite pro.