Absolutely awesome!” is how Surabhi Gupta described the just concluded summer camp hosted by Tiger Tennis and the St Lucia Tennis Association Incorporated. Gupta was one of several young players on the island who had the opportunity to learn from accomplished coach Earl Blanchard, a St Lucian native based in Spokane,Washington. Held over a two-week period, the camp focused on fine-tuning many key aspects of the participants’ game.
For Gupta, the experience proved very fruitful. “I learnt a lot. I could not figure out why my serves kept going out. So Coach Earl corrected it for me. He also fixed my backhand and also on my forehand he told me why my elbows started hurting all the time because I was doing something wrong in the action.”
The youngster also received a confidence boost.
“I used to get really nervous during matches and not do my best. He showed me how to be mentally tough,” she said.
For his part Coach Blanchard was thrilled with the results he drew from his students.
“I had a lot of fun working along side Coach (Sirsean) Arlain. It was a pleasure to work with the young tennis players. It was very satisfying to see their response to instruction and their approach to my methods of imparting the knowledge to them. They were like
sponges absorbing every thing thrown at them. There was never a complaint during the two weeks. I would like to thank the parents who trusted me with their kids and took the time to stop by to greet me, especially the grandparents with whom I had the privilege of playing in the past.”
Fellow Coach and Tiger Tennis Director Arlain, commended those who came on board and assisted in the undertaking of the camp.
“Honestly I’d love to thank the Voyager, SLTAI, Coach Earl, of course, and Trevor Louisy, our Director for Youth Development, because without his help the camp wouldn’t have been possible. I just think he gets that we all have to get together for the kids and put the “me” aside.”
For Arlain, it was gratifying to see the improvement in the students, many of whom he has had a chance to help mold over the years.
“You saw a change in their approach for some, others need lots of technical help, but the mental toughness aspect was priceless to them. We will monitor that part very closely throughout this year. It’s tough though; all these personalities and differences of homes, economics, ethnic standings, and culture. It’s all a work in progress for us. I learned how and when to probe so I can be better at getting the best out of my charges,” he concluded.
The SLTAI’s Louisy is ecstatic with the feedback he has been receiving from the participants and believes that the training will bring about necessary change.
“I think the program that Mr Blanchard had with the kids over the past two weeks has been very beneficial. I think he’s helped all of them improve their game in one way or the other whether it’s their serve, their volley, their backhand, and how to recover in
between points. All I’ve heard from the kids is positive things. I think he’s helped them in terms of their mental strength, their attitude towards the game, and I think these are fundamentals and they are very important in terms of developing your game. The earlier that you can get these concepts to the kids the better it will be in terms of their long term development,” he explained.
Louisy shared the association’s plans to have the camp play an integral role in the tennis landscape for the future.
“The tennis association agreed to sanction the program that Sirsean was doing down here and there was some financial support that the association rendered to the program but it is something that I think the association should embrace more holistically and take full responsibility for getting Mr Blanchard down here so we can get more kids involved. This year kids participated more on a voluntary basis. Next year if it is being sponsored and sort of run by the tennis association, kids will not really have
the option. You want to represent St Lucia? Come to the camp. You have to participate in the camp. So that’s what we’re hoping to do next year.”