Holt tries to jolt local interest in tennis with summer camps
West Memphis tennis coach Kevin Holt is hosting a camp which he hopes will revitalize interest in the sport in Crittenden County
Holt Therapy and Wellness has partnered up with University of Memphis Women’s Tennis Coach Alex Lane to host the Holt Therapy and Wellness Tennis Camp currently taking place at the Meadowbrook Country Club.
Kevin Holt, owner of Holt Therapy and Wellness and tennis coach at West Memphis High School, announced that the camp will continue until July 27.
The camp offers different levels of exercises for different players ranging from 8 to 18 years of age. The younger players learn under the instruction of Holt’s son Kaiden while the high school players are coached up by Lane himself who coached Kaiden and agreed to join up with Holt to serve tennis to an area that Holt says is starving for the sport.
“Tennis was a big thing at one time in this area and we’d like to see that come back,” Holt said. “The few kids you see doing really well over here are going to Memphis to get their lessons and training and all that. We’ve got six good courts in Marion and four at the Country Club. We got courts that need to be utilized. So, why not give them an opportunity to play tennis here?”
Holt’s love for tennis comes from that time period in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s when he was taught tennis by his parents and when Meadowbrook Country Club saw upwards of 64 participants in their annual men’s tennis tournament.
Holt stopped playing competitive tennis when he was just 14 years old but continued playing the sport recreationally and even began teaching adults how to play the game when he was still in high school. In college, Holt continued his tennis coaching to supplement the “poor man’s college fund”, as the current Blue Devils coach calls it. Before taking the position on the court with the Blue Devils, Holt volunteered his time at Marion High School as the Patriots tennis coach for nine years.
Holt says that the camp teaches all of the aspects of tennis, beginning with simply how to hit a ball.
“First thing is you got to get the basic strokes down,” Holt said. “With the young kids, they’re basically tossing balls and having them hit it, showing them how to hit the forehand and how to hit the backhand and they’re standing in one spot to do that. Some kids may have to work on that for weeks on in. Some of them are really athletic and get it pretty quickly. If you have good hand-eye coordination, you’re going to pick it up quicker than those who don’t.”
Once the basic strokes are learned, students learn the art of moving around the court and working on more advance techniques like how to consistently keep the ball in play.
“That’s the biggest trouble that we have, especially with our high school players,” Holt said. “A lot of kids can not maintain a 10ball rally.”
Once the player gains the ability to consistently keep the ball on the court, it’s all about reading and taking advantage of the opponent’s weakness.
“Once a kid learns how to rally for a long period of time, then you start incorporating strategy,” Holt said. “Does this kid have a weak backhand or forehand? Which would do I need to exploit? Does this kid have trouble moving around the court? If he does, then I’m going to move this kid around the court and get him tired and he’s going to make mistakes that way. It’s just a progression from learning how to hit a basic shot to moving them around the court and mixing in some strategy.”
Holt also preaches the importance of endurance, saying that his high school team usually runs over a mile before practice in preparation for lengthy matches in the grueling Arkansas heat.
“Sometimes, you have those marathon matches, and you have to be as strong on the last point as you were on the first,” Holt said.
After each day of practice, lunch is provided followed by at least an hour of swimming.
For people who are not members of Meadowbrook County Club, the Tuesday through Friday camp cost $300 a week.
For more information about the Holt Therapy and Wellness Tennis Clinic, contact Kevin Holt at 870 636 9222.
By Collins Peeples