Milford High girls’ tennis team holds successful youth clinic

MILFORD – Friday, June 1 at the Milford High tennis courts, a group of six middle school kids interested in picking up the game of tennis gathered for a one-hour clinic led by Milford tennis head coach Jacquelyn Mullikin-Powers.

With no middle school feeder program for the high school tennis team, these annual clinics are oftentimes the way coach Mullikin-Powers discovers her future high school players.

“We sometimes do one in the fall as well – in the past I’ve had a lot of requests for clinics – so we sometimes do spring and fall,” she said. “A lot of middle schoolers are interested since there’s no middle school feeder program or any tennis clubs for middle schoolers.”

Nathaniel Vickers chases down a ball during Friday afternoon’s Milford tennis clinic (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

For Friday’s clinic, which began approximately 4 p.m. and ran until about 5, six middle schoolers hit the courts: Nathaniel Vickers, Cheng Zang, Samantha Azor, Mallory Enck, Joy Cooper and Lauren Fulton.

Joined by Milford High’s junior tennis player, Lauren Becton, coach Mullikin-Powers taught the group three of the major components of tennis: how to hit a volley, how to hit a ground stroke and how to hit a serve.

“I try to treat it like my high school practice, so we do the same warm-up stretches my high schoolers do,” said coach Mullikin-Powers. “I had my high school MVP [Lauren Becton] lead them through that and then we’re going through three different skills: how to hit a volley, how to hit a ground stroke and how to hit a serve. Those are kind of the three major components of tennis. So, we’re doing some skills and drills and, then by the end, we’ll get them to play a little doubles match. We usually try to finish these clinics with some fun competition for the kids.”

The excitement level for the kids to pick up a tennis racket and try out a new sport was certainly evident in their smiling faces.

Head coach Jacquelyn Mullikin-Powers shows Samantha Azor the correct form during Friday afternoon’s tennis clinic at Milford High (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“They were thrilled. They were running out the doors to get out here today. They were so excited, which just warms my heart to see the interest is there,” coach Mullikin-Powers said with a smile. “What’s nice is I tell them that these are public courts in the summer and even though there’s no tennis club they can still come out here in the summer and play and bring their family.”

All six kids expressed interest in playing tennis once they reach high school.

“Everyone here – all the kids – did say they are interested and would like to play in high school. They want to learn, through time, and they’re all very much beginners so this is a good way to learn through programs like this.”

Milford junior Lauren Becton attended one of the clinics in middle school and it turned out pretty well for her.

“I played one night with my cousin and I kind of took interest in it and I saw they had clinics here. So, I came to one and I liked it so I chose tennis as my high school sport,” Becton said Friday afternoon.

From L-R: middle school students Nathaniel Vickers, Cheng Zang, Samantha Azor, Mallory Enck, Joy Cooper and Lauren Fulton (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Since that first clinic, her game has very much improved over time.

“I think it has progressed a lot,” she said. “I started out on junior varsity as a freshman, then I went up to varsity my 10th grade year.”

Lauren is happy to help out with the clinic and show some of the middle school kids what it can do for their future.

“It’s just about showing them what I went through and showing them that the right guidance can help you progress in a sport,” she said of the clinic.

If the interest is there, coach Mullikin-Powers hopes to have a second clinic in the fall.

All proceeds from the event went towards the Milford High School Girls Tennis Boosters.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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