More than just net gains at annual tennis camp at Fremont Tennis Center

GLENDALE — Graduation took place for a group of 71 on Thursday morning at Fremont Tennis Center following a six-week stretch in which they learned about the value of exercise and the fundamentals of tennis.

Following the final moments in which the athletes completed their respective drills, the participants sat in three rows on the court before receiving their certificates of achievement at the tennis camp that was put on by the LA84 Foundation, in conjunction with the Southern California Tennis Assn. and the National Junior Tennis League.

Glendale resident Ellin Khachatoorians cradled her racquet before receiving her certificate for the third straight summer from Ron Zambrano, the camp’s director who is also a professional at Fremont.

“I just enjoy playing tennis and there’s always something new that you can learn each time you come,” said Khachatoorians, 10. “We do different kinds of drills and exercises to keep us moving.

“I’ve been playing tennis for about three years. Three years ago, I didn’t know how to serve. Then, the last couple of years, I’ve worked on and gotten better with my backhand. It’s fun to be able to keep learning.”

The camp, geared for players 6-16 from Glendale, La Crescenta and Montrose, provided valuable opportunities for players to learn basic skills for $10. It began June 24 and wrapped up Thursday with a closing ceremony.

Zambrano, who also coaches the St. Francis High and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy tennis teams, said that nearly half of the campers were returners who wanted to spend a portion of their summer break on improving their all-around game.

The campers would often begin a day on the court with several running and jumping exercises before grabbing their racquets to perfect their skills.

“Tennis is a game for life,” said Zambrano, who added that 57 campers took part in the event in 2012. “It’s a sport you can play at any age.

“We stress to them that exercise is very important because it’s all about being coordinated. When it comes time to do the different drills, we divide them up so that everybody can learn and play at their own pace. We also stress to them about being a team player.”

Matthew Keshishian, 9, soaked up the environment for the fourth straight summer. Keshishian, a Glendale resident, worked on a variety of drills Thursday.

“I think I’ve gotten better [in the last six weeks] with my backhand,” Keshishian said. “I came here wanting to work on my forehand and backhand. I also wanted to work on my accuracy, especially on the backhand.”

Zambrano said Reggie Perry, a Glendale native, was instrumental in helping Glendale become one of more than 50 sites around Southern California to host the program. After several years of trying to develop a local tie, Perry succeeded in bringing the event to the area in 2009 at Glendale High before moving it cross town to Fremont in 2010.

Similar camps were held from San Diego to Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. A closing ceremony was scheduled to be held at each location.

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