Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Tennis lessons available in July


Pierre Bibbs

Amelia Johannesen, Maddy Tatafu, Instructor Casey Gallagher, Bridger Benton, Mathew Hunter, Luke Tatafu, and Jace Tollefson.

Malta has had a stack of papers filled with different activities available to the public at the City Hall. One of the newest of those activities is tennis.

The Malta Parks and Recreation's first session of Outdoor Tennis Lessons had it's last class of the first session on Thursday, June 28, at the Murray Tennis Courts on the south end of South 1st Ave East. The second session will start on Monday, July 16 and will conclude on Thursday, July 26.

Teaching the course is a former high school tennis player and New Jersey native Casey Gallagher.

"Last year, I had reached out to Natalie up at Parks and Rec because I noticed the course," Gallagher said. "I was like, I would totally teach tennis and we can coordinate."

Before moving to Malta less than a couple of years ago, Gallagher lived in upstate New York. A job with AmeriCorps brought Gallagher to Montana.

As far as her experience with tennis, the now 24-year-old has played the game since she was an eighth-grader.

"It's a lifelong sport and it's a great, fun skill," Gallagher said. "It can be competitive. You can do tournaments. There is so much you can do with it."

Though Gallagher had a late start to the game, she went on to play in high school at Newton High School, the #2 singles player on the team, as well as a state-ranked team captain.

"My goal for teaching tennis was giving the people in Malta another sport to play," Gallagher said. "They have the courts available. Parks and Recreation has rackets available if you want to borrow them. It's a game that adults can play."

At the start of the June session, Gallagher wasn't sure that her course would have many students.

"Initially I thought, only two people signed up?" Gallagher said. "Which was no problem. That's great because there could have been none."

Arriving at the courts, she was surprised by what she saw.

"Then we had seven kids interested and they all showed up," Gallagher said. "It's been great and so much fun."

Her students from session one were all in middle school or younger, but her course isn't limited to students only.

"It's open to all ages," Gallagher said. "We had a minimum of six because we didn't know what ages we were going to bring in."

In this session, each student was new to the game of tennis, which prompted Gallagher to help her young students with the most important skill.

"We are more or less developing hand-eye coordination now," Gallagher said. "That is key to beginning tennis because once you've developed that skill it is easy to understand."

She went on to say that one of the first exercises her class did was bouncing a ball on their racket.

"It's harder than it looks," Gallagher said. "So I try to start out with that, the fundamentals of hand-eye, and then things like hitting shots down the baseline, hitting them at the net, having them aim at certain targets."

Gallagher then picks out what each student does well and what each student needs improvement on.

Though they work on many things in the class, the students don't play games against each other in the class atmosphere.

"I am not trying to coach because it can take away from a fun game," Gallagher said. "I'm trying to teach them right now. The fundamentals, why you would want to hit it like this, proper grip on a racket, so that way when they are running a play, they are going to be good."

The first session featured four beginner classes that started on Monday, June 18 and continued each Thursday and Monday until Thursday, June 28.

"I was thrilled," Gallagher said on how the first session went. "The kids have progressed significantly. It's so fun to see (their development) before your eyes. They remembered things and they can share it with their friends."

The second session is set to kick off on Monday, July 16, and continue every Monday and Thursday until Thursday, July 26. The class will start at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m.

"We may throw in a little competition and make it fun," Gallagher said.

Gallagher hopes that one day there will be a bigger tennis atmosphere in Malta.

"When there is more interest, we can play round robins, which are really fun tournaments," Gallagher said. "I think it's a fun community event that I would love to see an interest in."

The classes are $20 per session. To sign up for tennis and for more info contact Julia Tatafu at 654-4178 or Natalie Judd at 520-686-0986. Registration forms are available at Malta's City Hall.


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