This is summer tennis camp for youngsters. It consists of a little technique interspersed with a bunch of games and mostly fun.
This particular game is called Lava Monster, and if you’re not (or weren’t) a kid learning to play tennis, you might not be familiar with the rules.
Let an expert explain. This is Slater Heim, 5, in the photo at left: “You have to line up at the fence, and teachers roll the balls. And when they roll the balls you have to jump. But if you get hit, you’re a lava monster. I don’t like being a lava monster.”
Kenley Leuthold, right, has a different point of view. “She was hilarious,” says her mom, Brenna Leuthold, speaking for her. “I’m pretty sure she tried to get hit. When she got hit, she got to (roll) the balls. That’s more her style.”
At 4, Kenley was the youngest kid at camp. Her sister was in an older group, and this was Kenley’s first organized sport, not that tennis was high on her list. (Why did you want to go to camp? “My mom said I had to.”) But whatever she did learn about tennis — technique being all mixed up with the fun — she did learn to skip.
“I was skipping. I was jumping over the balls. And I was hopping and I was crab-walking and I was skipping and I was bear-walking,” says Kenley. “I think it was good.”
Kenley likes to win, so her mom was worried. As the youngest participant, and in a group with all kinds of abilities, winning wasn’t always a given. “She learned a bit of humility,” says Leuthold.
“She’s a feisty little thing. She’s our middle child, and she goes right in that stereotype,” says her mom. “She always makes us laugh. We don’t know what we would do without her, but we could only handle one of her.”
As for Slater, he’s not sure what sport is next. He played soccer (check); and tennis (check). “That’s it for my sports,” he says. “Oh. And swimming.” His mom said he’s mentioned learning to play ping pong. “He comes up with the strangest things. ... He surprises us,” says Doreen Heim.
Katherine Jones: 377-6414