The COVID pandemic made it tougher for the Rev. James Jackson Sr. to recruit children to participate in his 29th annual tennis camp.
“JJ Camp” takes place annually every weekday in June at the Nosef Park tennis courts. Jackson has been playing tennis for much of his life and is the Clarksdale High School head coach.
“That’s what’s really tough because I couldn’t go to the schools and ask the kids to sign up,” Jackson said. “They had to do it online, virtual and all that. As a matter of fact, I went on Facebook with some of the pages and tried to steer the kids to come.
“I am so sorry that I couldn’t get to all the schools this year because of the pandemic, but just tell the parents to send the kids out. We’ll be here.”
The first day was Tuesday and there were four children who participated. Hanna Espy, who just graduated from Coahoma Early College High School, is assisting Jackson with the program. Espy has played for recreation and worked with Jackson when she was younger.
Jackson said campers will learn how to hit with their forehands and backhands and how to coordinate on their side. They will play more competitive matches in late June.
“They’re going to play at the end of the (month),” Jackson said. “At the end of the (month), I generally take them to the movies, those seventh graders and up.”
They will see a movie in Southaven.
The camp is for children all the way through high school and it is not too late to register.
“They still can come,” Jackson said. “It’s still going to be for all the month of June from 7:30 (a.m.) to 9:30 (a.m.). If you’re a seventh grader, you’re going to come every day. If you’re under seventh grade, you can come Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is going to be for my seventh graders and up.”
While there may be issues with COVID, Jackson said tennis has more distance than any other sport.
“In tennis, it’s more distance than anything because you’re going to be spread apart a whole lot,” Jackson said. “That was a plus. That’s how come we were able to play for our other season.
“Those that were concerned or worried about it, again, we’re spaced out. Again, being with kids, they’re going to gather together. I try to express that they could space out a little bit.”
Jackson is doing his part to keep everyone safe.
“I got fully vaccinated and I was so glad,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the cost to participate in camp for the entire month is $3. Campers do not need a tennis racket. They just have to wear tennis shoes.
“Come on,” Jackson said. “We’re going to have some fun again.
“I’ve enjoyed every year.”