Over the last two decades, tennis has seen a steady decline in popularity throughout the United States. After American players like Andrea Agassi, Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick laid down their racquets, the sport has seen it’s television ratings plummet while fewer American kids are interested in learning the game.
Despite the country’s declining interest level, Ryan Carter is ensuring Scioto County remains interested in the sport he devoted his life too.
The former East Tartan began his own tennis camp 25 years ago at the age of 18, along with fellow tennis player Aaron Kallner, who Carter described as a “rival player.” However, despite their rivalry on the court, they joined forces off the court to begin the camp.
“We started the tennis camp because they did not have any tennis camps in this area in the summer,” Ryan Carter said. “They do in Columbus and in other areas. We wanted a camp that kids of ages 5-17 could come out for three days and hit a lot of balls, have fun and work on their tennis game.
“The other reason we continue to do the tennis camp, tennis is a dying sport in our area. Tennis was very popular in the 80s and 90s and now it has fallen down in popularity.”
After Kallner left to attend Optometry school, Ryan’s father — Tom Carter — began offering his services and has contributed to the camp over the past 20 years. Tom Carter, who is the current coach at Wheelersburg, has coached tennis in Scioto County for 30 years.
Despite reviewing the fundamentals, Ryan Carter wants to remind future generations how important the game is and once a person master’s the skill, they can play the sport for the majority of their life.
“We try to tell the kids that tennis is a fun game that teaches you strategies and good sportsmanship and you can play tennis until you are 80,” Carter said. “Right now I know of at least five long time tennis players that are pushing or are 90. It is a game that takes a couple racquets and balls and the courts are always there to play anytime.”
According to Carter, the tennis camp has grown over the years. The camp usually produces 40-85 campers per year, with 85 participants being the largest number in the 25 years of existence. Two of the past campers, Chad and Courtney Pierron who went on to play tennis collegiality, have returned to the camp as instructors over the last handful of years.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.