Milltown – As New Brunswick gradually reopens public spaces and signs of summer emerge, families looking for fun and exercise are heading to the tennis courts in Milltown. The growing number of people utilizing the public courts brings a broad smile to Herb Duplissea’s face.
“It’s wonderful to see parents bonding with their children on the court. To have families here enjoying themselves,” said Duplissea, who took a few minutes to watch June Choi practice his forehands and backhands with his dad (David) feeding the balls.
Duplissea is part of Roadrunners Tennis that in partnership with the Town of St. Stephen’s Parks and Recreation has offered a tennis camp for youth for almost 15 years. Choi is a repeat tennis camper who hopes it will be able to run later in the summer since COVID-19 sidelined it as well as other summer recreation programs. In the meantime, he practices with dad.
Jesse and Emmy Caldwell were also using the courts this past week. With 10-year-old Nate and seven-year-old Riley, the Caldwells had Tennis Canada recommended oversized red/yellow balls for beginners.
“For the past few years, Canadian Tire has kept the different practice balls and various sized racquets in stock,” said Duplissea. “Prior to the former manager’s son coming to tennis camp, we couldn’t find the equipment in St. Stephen. Having the proper equipment is important. If the racquet is too big or the balls have too much bounce, beginners will get discouraged.”
June remembered when he was first introduced to tennis and held a youth size racquet in one hand while trying to make contact with an oversized ball. He’s justifiably proud to have advanced to using an adult racquet and regulation tennis balls.
New signage at the courts reminds users that they must carry their own hand sanitizer and observe all rules in place due to COVID-19. “When I come to the courts now, not only do I have my racquet, hat, water, and bug spray, I’m also carrying my own sanitizer and camp chair,” said Duplissea. Courts are open Monday through Saturday from approximately 8 a.m. to dusk and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to dusk, out of respect for St. Peter’s Anglican Church.