Cheap tennis a win-win for Lakeview

It’s no secret that private tennis lessons cost a lot of money.

In fact, the average cost is $40-50 per hour for a certified professional trainer. Most individuals in this area – and perhaps the country – cannot afford the kind of change it takes for a young tennis player to excel in the sport.

Well, Lakeview tennis coach Stephanie Hickey has a solution for those folks looking for a cheap way to teach their children how to swing their rackets and other basics of the game. Every Saturday, starting this week and going through Aug. 3, Hickey and the Lakeview High School boys and girls tennis programs will host their Junior Bulldog Tennis Clinics from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Willow Park in Cortland.

Boys and girls from kindergarten through eighth grade can receive instruction from Hickey, her assistants and three boys and girls varsity players for just $5 per session. When Hickey began these clinics back in 2009, she set the price at $5, and five years later, that price hasn’t changed.

Based on how much it costs for the private lessons, this discount is hard to beat.

“I’ve always kept it at $5,” Hickey said. “I have never raised it and probably never will because I want to give anyone in the community – not just Cortland but surrounding areas also – if they have an interest in the sport to have a chance to participate.”

During these times, the children receive a lot of instruction from the varsity players, including 2013 boys state-qualifier Aaron Paczak, and Hickey and her assistants.

Hickey said the clinics average around 15 to 20 kids per weekend.

On top of these clinics, Lakeview tennis hosts a “Tennis with the Bulldogs” day on Aug. 10, where youth can come and compete in contests with and against all members of the tennis teams for one-and-a-half hours. Hickey said she tries to pair up one of her boys or girls players with one kid.

It costs nothing for this event, although Hickey said donations to the Lakeview tennis teams are always appreciated.

“It’s good for the players on my team to give back to the community for one thing and to introduce a sport they know how to play,” Hickey said. “Who knows – it might spark them to be an instructor, be a coach.”

Of course, there is a small ulterior motive as to why Hickey started these programs, as she is, afterall, a coach.

She’s hoping some of the children who come into the clinics will wish to continue to play the sport and join her teams when they reach the high-school level.

“That’s why I’m doing this, just to build a foundation for the program,” she said. “All I know is it has sparked a lot of interest in a lot of kids, and it has really helped develop our program throughout the years because they didn’t even have one.”

Still, it’s open to anyone from anywhere should a child wish to learn the basics of tennis. Even if the kids don’t pursue the sport after the clinics, the worst-case scenario isn’t bad.

At least the kids wasted a lot of energy early on a Saturday.