I have always been in awe watching the sport of Tennis. Superior fitness, hand-eye coordination, power, speed and finesse are all required to play this sport dating back to the 12th century. Racket sports have never been my forte, as I did not play them when I was young. Tennis always seemed to be an elitist sport, one where queens and princes ate strawberries and cream and drank tea whilst watching. Then I met with Charlotte Willis of Fernie Tennis Coaching, with her proper British accent. I learned that, while steeped in tradition, tennis is a very affordable and accessible sport. The skills learned in tennis can assist in many other sports and it is great fun for all ages.
Charlotte competed in tennis as a junior in the UK but soon found her love for the sport stemmed more from helping others than competing herself. She now resides in Fernie with her husband Ian and two sons and has 21 years of coaching experience. In partnership with the Fernie Tennis Community Association, she offers tennis programs and courses to the Elk Valley youth. Using progressive equipment, smaller courts and mini nets, Charlotte sets the kids up for success. Courses run throughout the spring and summer and offer great flexibility for youth of all ages. Sign up for the entire week or just 2 afternoons, or a morning if that is what works for you. These camps are affordable and focus on skill development but also on fun and the social aspect of this great sport. Parents can set their kids up with a racket and balls for just $35, and Charlotte also offers a buyback program. Further program and camp fee information can be found on www.tennisfernie.com.
Participants in Charlotte’s courses pay nominal fees, which include a membership to the association. The association funds back the junior programs mainly in the form of school programing. Thanks to this funding IDES receives a week-long program where over 400 kids get to try tennis with professional coaching. They also fund the junior social or “try and play” on Tuesdays at 5pm, here the juniors get to dominate the courts, all equipment provided. Additionally, they support the Junior Tennis Tournament – one of three tournaments held in Fernie. The James White park courts also host a Rogers Rookie Tour Tournament and a Community Team Tennis Tournament. All three are focused on the fun and social aspects of tennis.
Speaking with Charlotte you can fully sense her enthusiasm and love for this sport. One of her favourite moments this last year was having her (then) three-year-old playing tennis with her and his grandparents in the sun. She says it wasn't the prettiest tennis, but it was fun and time very well spent as everyone was laughing and smiling. It shows how you don't have to be an expert to enjoy it; it truly can be a sport for the whole family.