Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Sometimes, video games get a bum wrap. They are often blamed for children staying in doors to play electronic games, rather than spending time outside and getting plenty of physical exercise. But, maybe Mother Nature ought to say, "Thanks," to her electronic rivals every once in awhile.
At least, that might be in order when it comes to Riverdale youth, Kaelen Motley, 9, and Jonesboro youngster, Dante Bullard, 7. Both children attribute their new-found interest in learning how to play tennis to the same video game -- for the Nintendo Wii gaming console. They are students in a beginners tennis class at the Clayton County Tennis Center.
They have been hitting the tennis court -- the real, live one, with a clay surface, a net, and fuzzy, fist-sized, yellow balls -- twice a week for three weeks now, practicing their lollipop shots, forehands and backhands.
"I was good at Wii tennis, so I decided to give this a try," Motley said.
"I wanted to try this because of the Wii," Bullard said. "I like playing tennis on there, because I can hit the ball hard."
Since the school year recently ended, summer activities, such as tennis classes, provide an option for families looking for something to keep their children occupied. The Clayton County Tennis Center offers several classes for youths on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The classes range from "Little Stars" beginning tennis classes for children ages 3 and 4, to an "All Stars" intermediate tennis class for children ages 5 to 17. There are also the "Future Stars" class, for children ages 5 to 9, and the "Rising Stars" advanced beginner tennis class, for youths, 10 to 17.
"I usually keep the teaching pretty much the same, regardless of the age, because you're teaching the same basic concepts to them at every level," said Yusef Crowe, one of three tennis coaches, who teach the youngsters at the center.
Classes begin at the tennis complex every four weeks, with the next classes set to start on June 21, according to Nikki Cauthen, a senior office assistant at the Clayton County Tennis Center.
The cost to participate in a class is $35 per player for four weeks of the "Little Stars" classes, and $50 per player for four weeks of the "Future Stars," "Rising Stars" or "All Stars" classes. The tennis center is situated inside Clayton County International Park, which is located at 2300 Ga. Hwy. 138, in Jonesboro.
For more information on the classes, call (678) 479-5016.