The Florence Township Tennis Program returned this June after having embarked on a successful 2018 campaign.
Florence Township Summer Tennis Clinics are currently open for registration and are scheduled every Tuesday evening through Summer. The program is for Ages 5 to 9; Ages 10 to 14; and Ages 15 through Adult. The clinics are held H. Kenneth Wilkie Memorial Park on West Front Street.
Classes are led and instructed by United States Tennis Association instructors. Registration cost is $50 and registration remains open. A pro-rate will be in place based on amount of the weeks remaining for the clinics.
Florence Township Recreation Director Martin Eckert, Jr. said the initiative for the tennis program began last year when he was in search of a way to get more community members involved in recreational activities.
With the support of the Florence municipality as well as personal colleagues, Eckert said he was able to kickstart the program and offer a new, fun activity for both youths and adults in Florence to get involved.
Eckert noted that the clinics help provide students with a foundational ability to engage in the game at any level.
“As the summer goes, the kids adapt quickly,” Eckert said. “There is a progression where they can volley the ball back-and-forth. They develop a bit of a skillset. By the end of the clinics, they may not really be able to play games yet, but they can consistently hit the ball back-and-forth over the net like you are supposed to.”
Not only does the program help participants learn the game of tennis, but Eckert explained that the program, more importantly, got people involved. He reported that a majority of the program’s participants had previously not been signed up for any other recreational activity in the township.
“It is really rewarding knowing that we found something that the kids can latch onto and enjoy,” he said. “It didn’t interfere or take away from any other programs, but it got these kids outside – having social interactions and making friends, having fun, and the parents were thrilled. We really hit on all cylinders.”
Eckert revealed that the summer clinics were so well received that at the end of the sessions, people had requested if the clinic would be provided in the Fall months, weather permitting.
“So, that’s just what we did,” Eckert said.
He pointed out that many of the students returned for the fall sessions and helped the program become established in the community, especially for the youths who may not have been involved in a Fall sport.
But the clinics are not just for youths. Eckert said that another important component of the program was tog et adults involved.
“All of our recreation programs are for children. This is the first program where we have adults signed up,” he said. “That is another unique thing we are really building on. We already have a lot of things for kids to do in the community, but we have been light on what we have available for adults.”
Once the program opened up to adults, Eckert said it took off from there for them.
“What’s nice about it is that a lot of the parents who got involved in the program didn’t know each other,” he said. “It turned into something where they were meeting at the tennis courts at alternate times just to play tennis and developed friendships from it, and stayed in touch throughout the winter.
“It brings that sense of a community when you bring people together, which is an added bonus. We are not only helping the kids develop friendships, we are actually introducing parents to one another. A lot of what we are trying to do is recreate that sense of community,” he said.
Registration forms are available online and at the clerk’s office at the Florence Township Municipal Building located on 711 Broad Street. Online forms can be found at https://florence-nj.gov/. For more information about the program, call the Florence Township Recreation Department at 609-499-2525 Ext. 112 or email at email@example.com.