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Tennis312
05-06-2005, 10:32 AM
Has anyone ever been? Any insights? I just signed up for June this year and would be curious to hear comments on what to expect as well as any advice on maximizing the experience.

Joe Average
05-11-2005, 03:03 PM
I've been to the Nike Amherst tennis camp each year for the past three years, so I kind of know the drill. If you're going solo, I'd suggest going during a "singles" week. Tennis camp is like Noah's Ark. Campers often come in twos ... except during "singles" week. If that's not possible, don't worry. Everyone is pretty friendly and approachable. It's just that couples are more likely to form insular units.

When you register, you can actually request a particular instructor for your private lessons. You get a 1/2-hour private lesson in the morning, before the drills. Reiny (the director), Maureen, Noah, and Errol are the most experienced instructors. Most returning campers will request Reiny. So there's only a slim chance you'll get him, but the others are quite good. Noah is good if you're an advanced player. If you don't request an instructor, one will be assigned. And that's fine.

My only real advice to maximizing the camp experience is to play as much as possible ... and that especially includes the evening round robin doubles. After five/six hours of tennis, you may be tempted to opt out of round robins. Don't. Figure on catching a second wind. You need to get used to competing. And they're friendly matches. You'll probably win as many as you lose. The only thing frowned upon is taking winning and losing too seriously. You're there to improve ... and that means getting beat once in while. You'll be playing people you've never played before and will probably never see again. So learn to adjust your game.

Amherst is a very nice little college town. Amherst College, UMASS, and Hampshire are all within six miles of each other. Smith College is in nearby Northampton, and that's a very pleasant little city. Mt. Holyoke College is also about 10 miles away ... in South Hadley.

Soon after you arrive (and finding where to register may be tricky. There are several camps -- soccer, softball, junior tennis -- going on at once. Look for signs.), you'll be given an audition, and a chance to play doubles. The next morning (after your first private lesson), you'll be assigned to a group of four (no more than four) of the same skill level. Reiny is very good at determining these levels. The groups will be adjusted or not. You'll move from court to court (every half hour), instructor to instructor ... working on ground strokes, volleys & overheads, serves ... drills and competitive situations. The time will fly. Bring lots of shirts. I went through four shirt changes a day (although there is a laundromat in the dorm).

You can buy extra private lessons. $30 a half hour. You might want to get a lesson with Reiny. He's a terrific instructor.

Good luck!

Tennis312
05-13-2005, 10:57 AM
Wow -- thanks for all the information. I am going alone and, unfortunately, not during a singles week (or, at least I don't think so). I chose one of the advanced weeks (I'm a "recovering" 4.5 player). More than anything, I just want to play. I've not had the opportunity to play tennis non-stop for a few days since I played as a junior, so I view this as an opportunity to play some rust off. Just going out and having to keep the ball in play will be good for me. Thanks for all the advice on the pros, too.

Joe Average
05-23-2005, 09:28 AM
Don't worry about the distinctions. I've heard "singles" and "advanced" are often ignored. Beginners will show up for "advanced week" and families will show up for "singles week." I've never attended an advanced week, but I've heard two different stories. One guy told me that as a 3.0, he was just overwhelmed. But another guy told me that as a 4.5 he was the best in the camp. I guess it's a kind of crap shoot. My experience, of three years, all "singles weeks," has been that there's always at least one group of four of 4.5's. (One year there was a woman who played for the McGill University tennis team, placed in the advanced grouping of four, who was hitting harder than the men. Another year, a 4.5 challenged one of the pros to a set, winner contributes $100 to charity. He was spotted 5 games and lost 5-7) If you're a 4.5, I'd recommend Noah for your private lessons. Ask for him by name at registration. He's built like a bear (or offensive lineman), but moves like a cat. Have fun!

abrahams
06-15-2005, 08:36 AM
I've been to the Nike tennis camp in Amherst twice (once during an "Advanced" session, and once during a "Singles" session). My advice would be to set your expectations appropriately if you are a good player. The camp is extremely well run, and the instructors are helpful and enthusiastic. However, as a rated 4.5 player out of Atlanta I found that I was clearly the best player in camp. That's not the position you want to be in. I was not getting challenged by the other players in the foursomes into which we were always grouped. Reiny does a great job of sorting the players he has, but if there's no one of your ability, you get what you get. The instructors are fun to hit with, but some were not better as players than I was. I think it's a great camp if you're a true 4.0 or below. If higher, I think it's going to be hit or miss whether there's someone of your ability there.

kap
07-11-2005, 03:34 PM
I'm writing an article for a national fitness magazine and I'll be talking about the Nike Tennis Camp at Amherst. If anyone who has attended would be willing to answer a few questions via e-mail or phone, please contact me. I need to talk with a participant by July 18.
Thanks! You can send me an e-mail by clicking on my user name - there's an option to send an e-mail that way.