Summer Tennis Camp Survival Guide for Parents

Summer Tennis Camp Survival Guide for Parents

Summer is upon us, and for tennis-loving families with rising tennis enthusiasts, it’s the perfect time to enroll your child in a summer tennis camp. Why summer tennis camps? They offer kids of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to improve their game and have fun while making new friends. But with so many options available, choosing the right summer tennis camp can be overwhelming. You must consider the programming and development, session length, coaches and staff, location, facilities, and so much more. 

We prepared this guide to summer tennis camps to help you navigate the selection process so you and your child feel confident about your choice. It covers everything from selecting the best camps to pre-camp preparations, practical tips for camp life, and how your child can maximize their training. We included a few of our favorite camps in Northern California and out-of-state alternatives for players who want the overnight experience. Let’s get started! 

Pre-Camp Preparations 

Summer Tennis Camp Survival Guide for Parents

Before you start working on any comparison charts, it's important to ask your child if tennis camp is something they genuinely want to do. That will go a long way in mentally preparing them and ensuring they make the most of their experience. Once they give you the go-ahead, consider your child’s unique needs and keep this in mind as you research to ensure the camp’s programming and coaching styles are a fit. 

Here’s a list of key camp considerations: 

  • Location: This is very important, especially if you plan on daily pickups and drop-offs. While a nearby location may ensure a convenient commute and quick access in case of emergencies, it may limit your options depending on where you live. For those considering an out-of-state camp, factor in lodging and its proximity to an airport for easy access to your child.
  • Duration: Camps offer a range of options to suit every family's needs, including single-day drop-in sessions, weekly half-day or full-day programs, multi-week boarding /overnight options, and even weekend stays to play in tournaments. Choose based on your child's age, skill level, experience, and maturity. 
  • Programming and Development: Review the camp’s programming to determine how well it fits your child’s needs. Things to look into would be the coach-to-camper ratio, how well the camp balances skill development with fitness and conditioning, the emphasis on match play and competition, and the inclusion of team-building activities. Competitive junior players may also benefit from camps like Gorin Tennis Academy in the San Francisco Bay Area, which offers mental conditioning to prepare campers for next-level tournaments. 
  • Coach Qualifications and Attributes: Review the coaching staff's overall qualifications and the head coach's accessibility to all players, regardless of their skill level. You also want to ensure the coach's teaching style aligns with your child's learning preferences to maintain motivation. Keep in mind that great coaches can challenge players effectively without breaking their spirit.

Health and Safety Preparations

  • Child Protection Policy: Familiarize yourself with the camp’s child protection policy, which should outline the camp’s dedication to camper safety. This includes thorough staff screening and training, efforts to support campers' emotional well-being, and clear communication between the camp and parents.
  • Security: Review the camp’s check-in and check-out procedures and visitor protocols. For overnight camps, ensure the dorms offer a level of security that gives you peace of mind. 
  • Injuries and Medical Emergencies: Understand the camp’s response to injuries so you know what to expect in case of an incident. 
  • Vaccination and Immunization: Ensure your child is up-to-date.

Setting the Stage for Success

Before your child starts tennis camp, sit down with them and review the program and their daily routine so they understand the structure of their day. If they are going to an overnight camp, explain how they can communicate with you and work through any anxieties they may have. Here are a few other topics to discuss:

  • Personal Goals and Expectations: With your child's help, set realistic goals for what they hope to achieve at camp, whether building their confidence during match play or simply having fun and meeting new people. 
  • Health & Safety: Discuss health concerns such as managing allergies, staying hydrated, sun protection, and listening to their bodies to prevent injuries. 
  • Equipment and Gear: Create a checklist of all the equipment and gear they must bring to help them stay prepared and comfortable.  
  • Camp Rules & Expectations: Explain the camp rules and policies, especially for overnight camps so they know what is expected of them. 

Making the Most of Training Time

Camp goes by quickly, so it's important for campers to listen, stay engaged, and give their best effort to make the most of the experience. When coaches challenge them, they do so to foster the most growth and development within the limited time they have together. 

Here’s how to help your child make the most of their training time: 

  • Enhancing Practice: While they shouldn’t overwork themselves to the point of exhaustion or injury, they may want to consider adding extra drills to their practice session. 
  • Incorporate Coaching Feedback: This is key. Coaches often suggest simple yet effective adjustments. These changes are easier to spot by experienced coaches who can identify a simple tweak that can change a camper’s game. 
  • Goal Setting with Coaches: Discuss your child’s personal goals with their coach. Together, they can set small, achievable goals that build confidence and motivate them throughout camp. It helps when camps like Rafa Nadal Academy provide individual player assessment reports to discuss progress. 
  • Have Fun/Positive Attitude: This might be hard when your camper has a bad day, but it's important to remind them that with the right attitude, bad days can still provide good learning. 

Social Aspects of Camp Life

Summer Tennis Camp Survival Guide for Parents

Tennis camp is as much about improving skills and development as it is about building long-lasting friendships. Camps provide a natural environment for kids to connect with other tennis players. This common ground can make socializing easier, especially for shy children. They can easily bond over the shared camp experience and learn from each other. 

If your child has their heart set on an overnight camp, here’s how to help them overcome homesickness and adjust to camp life: 

  • Discuss that feeling homesick is normal and not a sign that camp isn’t fun. 
  • Involve them in packing and shopping so they can go to camp feeling excited. 
  • Set a plan for communicating with your child via phone calls, letter writing, emails, picture sharing, etc. 
  • Encourage them to do something fun with a new friend to help take their mind off the feeling – and remind them camp goes by quickly! 

Packing Essentials

To help you with the packing process, we’ve compiled the following checklist:

Packing for Day Camp

  • Racquets: Pack the appropriate number for your child’s age and skill level. 
  • Tennis balls: Pack a can of balls.
  • Court shoes: Comfortable tennis shoes and athletic socks are a must-have. 
  • Apparel: Breathable athletic clothing, wristbands, a hat, and sunglasses. 
  • Hydration: Camps usually have water refill stations meant for reusable water bottles. 
  • Personal care: Sunscreen, insect repellent, and any medications they need. 
  • Lunch: Check to see if your camp includes lunch or a snack.
  • Entertainment: Books, games, or a journal to occupy them during downtime.  

Packing for Overnight Camp

  • Essential gear and equipment: Favorite racquet, tennis balls, shoes, apparel, reusable water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, medications, etc. 
  • Non-tennis clothing: Regular outfits that work for any downtime after practice.
  • Bedding: Some overnight camps provide sheets, but you must bring a pillow and a blanket.
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, facewash, feminine products, contact solution, and any other small items you need to sleep or wash up. 
  • Shower essentials: Shoes for the shower, a bath towel, soap, shampoo/conditioner, and a shower caddy. 
  • Cell phone and charger: Label your child’s charger, as they can easily be mixed up. 
  • Spending money: Overnight camps often have a cafe or snack bar. Generally, $100 per week will cover any expenses. 
  • Label Everything: It’s easy to lose things while having fun during the week; label your child’s belongings to avoid mix-ups or lost items. 

the RocketTo hold all your campers' gear, they need a sturdy tennis bag that keeps them organized and ready to go. We recommend investing in a durable tennis racquet bag like The Rocket tennis bag. Made with abrasion-proof material, our well-constructed bag will maintain its appearance day in and day out, including travel by car or plane. The Rocket features pockets for everything, each marked with icons to indicate their purpose, holding tennis racquets, balls, shoes, dry/wet apparel, small medical items, extra hydration, sunglasses, and more. Its spacious main compartment also comes in handy if your camper has excess items that won’t fit in their suitcase during travel and/or those mornings when you want a sweatshirt and sweatpants but don’t want to lug another bag around. And even though it can hold a lot, it's lightweight and can be carried like a backpack for optimal comfort. 

Top Tennis Academies in Northern California

Now that you’re ready, we have a list of the best tennis academies in Northern California. All the listed academies are great choices for parents looking to help develop their child’s tennis skills, regardless of their age or skill level. 

  • Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar
  • Players aged 8-17 can attend this tennis camp named after professional Spanish player Rafa Nadal. It offers a five-day summer session where your children will work with coaches from the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain. They will also learn Rafa’s official methodology, which stresses a technical and tactical modern playing style developed by Toni Nadal. 

  • Gorin Tennis Academy in California 
  • Vitaly Gorin founded the Gorin Tennis Academy, the only Global Professional Tennis Coach Association-certified academy in the US. Coach Gorin has been recognized for his unique coaching method, emphasizing continual improvement and learning. Campers benefit from his knowledge as he creates each tennis program's educational and training curriculum. Throughout the summer, this camp offers half-day camps for beginners, full-day camps for intensive training, and a week-long boarding camp option for dedicated players. 

  • Eagle Fustar Tennis
  • Eagle Fustar is open to players aged 7-13. Founded by former professionals Brain Eagle and Nick Fustar, It offers camps for all levels, from intermediate (UTR 2.5-4.5) to advanced (UTR 4.5+) training. Its philosophy is low coach-to-player ratios, and it uses tennis to develop leadership skills in a positive environment.

  • JMG Tennis Academy 
  • Although JMG Tennis does not offer a summer camp in the traditional sense, it is a fantastic option for young players looking to train at a high-intensity level. JMG focuses on developing junior players, starting as early as age four for its starter group. It also offers after-school training and an advanced academy program that requires flexible school schedules to accommodate 4 to 6 hours of daily training.

    National Overnight Camps

    If your camper decides they are ready for the overnight experience, here are some great options: 

  • The John Newcombe Tennis Ranch
  • Welcoming players aged 8-18, The John Newcombe Tennis Ranch offers a week-long overnight summer camp for players of all levels in addition to its year-round tennis academy. At Newks Tennis Camp, they focus on fitness and match play and have dedicated days to tournament-style play. They also offer a well-rounded camp experience by offering off-the-court activities like swimming, talent shows, soccer, handball, and kickball. 

  • IMG Academy (Girls Camp Boys Camp)
  • IMG Academy offers tennis programs for aspiring players aged 8-18, with options for both boys and girls. Choose from week-long or intensive three-week camps, ensuring your child receives the right coaching to develop their game. IMG caters to all ability levels, offering four different skill-level options for beginners to advanced players. When it's time to relax, campers can enjoy various activities, including pool movie nights, pool parties, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, table tennis, and a healthy smoothie bar.

  • Saddlebrook
  • Tennis players between 12 and 20 can hone their skills at Saddlebrook's prestigious junior boarding program. Campers participate in daily tennis sessions led by experienced coaches, helping them improve their technical, tactical, and mental performance. Their immersive program attracts players from around the world and offers a variety of engaging evening activities in addition to daily training. 

    Parents of players ages 8-11 should call to inquire about special arrangements.

  • The Evert Tennis Academy
  • Evert Tennis Academy offers a summer camp for basic and advanced junior players aged 8-18. Campers can board on-site and receive intensive training on technical development, tactical skills, and competitive matches. Evenings are filled with fun activities, including educational options like language classes, college prep, or private lessons.

  • Weil Tennis Academy
  • Weil Training Camps focus on players ages 10-19 at multiple levels of competitive tennis, from advanced beginners to nationally ranked players. Each day features 30 hours of comprehensive training, including stroke production drills, tactical training, competitive match play, and fitness sessions. Evenings are filled with engaging planned activities like dodgeball, ping-pong, basketball, movie nights, board game nights, and more. 

  • Van Der Meer Tennis Academy 
  • Van Der Meer Tennis Academy offers intensive training for tournament-level players aged 12 and up. Coaches certified by the Professional Tennis Registry focus on tactics, strategy, mental toughness, and endurance. The facility also boasts covered and lighted hard courts so the camp won’t get rained out. In their free time, campers also enjoy fun activities and beach access.

    Setting Your Young Tennis Star Up for a Memorable Summer Camp 

    Summer camp allows your child to grow their love for the game, build confidence, develop skills, and make friends. With the right camp and the tips in this comprehensive guide, you can set them up for a great camp experience. The Rocket tennis bag will also ensure your child gets there looking and feeling their best. Order your bag today! 
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