Champion Tennis Camp: Alan Margot
From time to time, Sign Up For Camp conducts interviews with camp directors to collect advice for parents looking for unique experiences for their kids. We recently exchanged emails with Alan Margot, founder of Champion Tennis Camp in Atherton, CA. Alan is the Director at the Atherton Tennis Center and a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association. He played tennis while at Stanford University and then professionally for three years. For 35 years he’s been teaching and coaching beginning players, sectional and national juniors, as well as touring professional players in the Bay Area. Champion Tennis Camps started in 1977.
Any specific advice on selecting a tennis camp?
I would find out what type of learning approach is used in the camp. Is the format serious, structured, laid back, competitive? Do they use ball machines or video? Do they play games or matches? Is it fun? Ask about the skills and qualifications of the teachers. What is the teacher-to-student ratio? Do they supply rackets or offer demos?
What questions should a parent ask a camp?
Selecting the right summer camp for your child is important. Sometimes parents do not take the time to investigate the camp where they send their children. I would treat this process like deciding which school your child should attend.
For any camp, I would ask how large are the groups of children? What is the age range of the children attending the camp? How are they grouped, by age, by ability? How often do the campers take a break? Does the camp provide water, juice, snacks? Is first aid quickly available?
How should parents help kids prepare for camp?
As for tennis, I suggest that parents first talk to their child to see if she or he would like to learn to play the game.
Make sure your child has actual tennis shoes that have proper foot support as opposed to running shoes or other types of shoes. A hat or visor and comfortable clothing is recommended. I feel sun screen is a requirement on a daily basis. Also make sure your child has an age appropriate racket and not one of Mom’s or Dad’s adult rackets.
What is special about Alan Margot’s Champion Tennis Camps?
Our program is a great introduction on learning the game of tennis or continuing to develop existing skills. We cover instruction on all the fundamental strokes, footwork and strategy, and we build consistency through fun drills, games and targets. Each group hits on the ball machine daily and we also use video for stroke analysis.
Our approach is to create lots of fun with positive feedback in a nurturing tennis environment. If it’s fun, children learn to focus and build consistency in what they’re doing because they’re enjoying it. Feeling good about what you’re doing creates confidence and builds self-esteem. I think nothing is more rewarding than helping a child to learn to believe in him or herself, and enjoy what they’re doing.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Make sure you feel comfortable where your child is going to camp. Children can pick up on parents’ vibes, and if you feel excited and comfortable about it, so will your child. If you’re a parent like me, you’ll want to enroll your child in the best environment possible; one that will encourage their tennis, but also offer other benefits, including life skills and a positive social environment. Summer camps are great experiences for children and hopefully they create good memories for a child to remember for a lifetime!