‘Putting on a clinic’

Olivia moore gives back to community through establishing city tennis camp.

When athletes make something look easy, they’re said to be “putting on a clinic.”

For Olivia Moore, she not only knows how to make tennis look easy on the court, she also knows how to put on a clinic. Literally.

This summer, the rising Jackson Preparatory School senior hosted the first-ever “City Tennis” tennis camp.

Twelve students from Jackson Public Schools participated in the program, which included two weeks of intense training sessions designed to help them learn the basics of the game.

The teen organized the event as a way to give back to the community and bring the game to children who might not otherwise be exposed to it.

“The thing about tennis is that getting lessons and learning the game is really expensive,” she said. “Getting a court and getting tennis balls isn’t. It’s just getting to that point.”

The camp was held in June at Parham Bridges Park.

Olivia began working on her plans in December.

“We collaborated with the USTA in Mississippi, which does tournaments throughout the state. We contacted Angie Geleon, who helped us get fliers together to send out to the kids in public schools. Then, we had to provide racquets for the kids,” she said.

Geleon is director of school tennis at the Mississippi Tennis Association (MTA).

The camp was for students age six to 12. Fliers were sent to McWillie, Casey, Spann and Boyd elementary schools and Barack H. Obama Magnet School.

“I led them in the direction they could find players,” Geleon said. “The association has had afterschool programs at McWillie, Casey and Spann, so the kids at those schools are familiar with tennis.”

Olivia approached her friends and teammates to borrow used racquets for students use. Geleon also helped obtain equipment, while the Parham Bridges Tennis Center offered reduced rates for court use during the 10 one-and-a-half-hour sessions. 

Lampton, 15, and Lytle, 13, Olivia’s brothers, also got in on the action, volunteering their free time as co-instructors. 

At the camp, students learned the basics, from how to serve and rally, to shooting forehand and backhand, and volleying, Olivia said.

“One kid had been exposed to tennis. He had done a USTA program at his school,” she said. “With the rest, we kind of started from scratch.”

For her part, Olivia was schooled on the various types of Pokémon characters.

Participation was capped at 12 students, and some had to be turned away because of limited resources.

“We had to set a limit at 12, because that’s the number my brothers and I thought we could handle,” she said. “We were really excited about the huge response.”

Olivia’s mother, Jane Ann, was not surprised the camp was a success. “Olivia’s pretty good at following through,” she said. “Also, she has her two younger brothers. They helped out.” 

Olivia began playing tennis at eight years old. She’s played everywhere, including Parham Bridges, the River Hills Club and Jackson Prep.

Today, the 17-year-old is one of the top players on the Lady Patriots tennis team. Last year, her team finished second in the state, behind Jackson Academy.

When she’s not on the court, Olivia is involved in other activities. She’s a member of the Pacers Dance Team, the National Honor Society, the Latin Honor Society, and the quiz bowl team. She also volunteer with the Writer’s Block, a program where students help other students improve their writing skills.

This fall, the teen will take on another duty, as editor-and-chief of the Sentry, Prep’s student newspaper.

Academically, Olivia has already completed four years of Advanced Placement Latin and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average.

She has not decided where she wants to attend college or what she wants to do with her life.

“That is also a big question my parents want answered,” she said. “I like literature and English. I also want to do the sciences.

“I’ve visited everywhere. My mom said I could go six hours in any direction.” 

While Olivia still hasn’t decided on college, she would like to see her camp expanded so more children can participate and more local teens can earn community service hours.

Next summer, Lampton and Lytle are planning to pick up where she left off. Said Olivia, “That’s the plan, to keep it going for (another) six years and hand it off down the road.”

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