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Winter tennis serves an ace

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Katie Hagen, 9, forehands a soft-toss from volunteer instructor Bill Gabbert (not shown) on Sunday at the final Quick Start Winter clinic at Willmar High School.

WILLMAR — The 10-week winter tennis program concluded Sunday at the senior high school and by all measures it proved a success.

Jim Anderson, program supervisor, reported that the first-time WCER-sponsored series drew 86 boys and girls from elementary through high school.

Thirty-six enrolled 10-and-under, 29 middle school and 21 high school.

Anderson, the boys and girls varsity coach at Willmar, was assisted by his assistant coach Laura Klein, middle school coach Bill Gabbert, Lyle and Jill Hovland, Dave Corneil, Jerry Swoboda, Pablo Obergon and Steve Myhre. All, including Anderson, are volunteers.

The Quick Start program for the youngest set emphasizes fun. Oversized foam balls and small racquets and nets are used. Each child receives a properly-sized racquet at enrollment that they get to keep.

For the upper programs, players divide up and work on skill sets, like serve, ground strokes and volley.

Anderson explained that Willmar tennis is in the process of developing a tennis program for all ages from small fry to seniors. Just like any other competitive sport, there needs to be a foundation supported by numbers.

The Willmar Lakes Area Tennis Association was established last year in cooperation with New London-Spicer High School coach Chad Schmiesing and others. It has a website.

The high school’s eight courts have been resurfaced and WCER is attempting to schedule resurfacing for other courts in the city. The middle school’s four courts are next in line.

The two school tennis complexes have also been improved with the addition of shelter at the high school and storage sheds at both.

Last year, the Quick Start Summer drew about 100 youth. Middle school and high school singles league were held with 30 signed up, plus adult leagues thrived.

Anderson added that formal practice for high school boys tennis begins March 25.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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