Nine-year-old Mitchell Deames of Daniel Island has set a big tennis goal for himself this year.
“I want to get to Belton (the state championship). I just started playing tournaments last year, and I want to get to Belton,” Deames said after a recent workout with Jerry Albrikes of LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.
To that end, Deames is practicing four times a week and plays in tournaments. He recently lost in the final of a local event but beat the No. 1 seed along the way.
But life isn’t all tennis. He also manages to find time to have fun playing other sports.
Doug Pielet, tennis director at LTP (Live To Play), said it’s all about learning what a player’s goal is and then helping him achieve it.
“Do they want to play college tennis? Do they want to make their high school team?” Pielet said. “We have a program six days a week, and some kids come six days a week. We have some who come one day a week. They come for the love of the sport, the exercise. Some want variety with soccer and baseball.”
Pielet, who played the pro circuit after his college days at the University of Texas, said he has that dichotomy in his own household. His younger daughter, Gianna, 10, has won a national tournament, and her primary interest is tennis; his other daughter, Sophia, 12, is more interested in dance and is more of a recreational player.
“We have an element for players who want to really develop, and we still have a nice corps of recreational players,” Pielet said. “We’re going to put them where their goals are. We don’t want to exclude anybody.”
Pielet said they have drills and workouts tailored to help players achieve their potentials. But he also noted that fun is foremost for youngsters in tennis. They will learn if the instructor makes it fun. Tell them your goal, he said, and they’ll fit that.
LTP tennis director Doug Pielet offers advice to Anna Golding at a recent clinic.×
Tommy Braswell/Staff Camryn Deames (left) and Morgan Mitchell practice during a recent clinic at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.×
Tommy Braswell/Staff Lillian Conant follows through after hitting a shot during a clinic at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.×