Sweet Spot Tennis Challenge for Youth

Submitted photo Regan Rideout focusing intently on the 90 mm foam ball used for beginner instruction during a youth tennis challenge in St. Stephen. The program returns to the Milltown Memorial Tennis Courts this Aug. 1.

ST. STEPHEN – Volunteers are hosting another tennis challenge for community youth at the Milltown Memorial Tennis Courts.

Known locally as Roadrunners Tennis, the trio of Lynda and Herb Duplissea with Reed Haley have hosted similar challenges the past few years.

“It’s our third or fourth year,” said Lynda Duplissea.

The Aug. 1 challenge starts at 9 a.m. with a mini lesson for children aged 6-9, followed by a skills competition. Each player participating will receive a prize. At 1 p.m., children 10 and older will head to the courts where they’ll receive a brief lesson followed by tournament-style play, the exact format to be determined based on the number of participants.

“Winners and runner-ups get something extra special,” said Lynda.

Racquets and balls will be available for all participants at the event.

“We encourage them to be wearing sneakers and to have a water bottle with them, it’s important to hydrate,” said Lynda. “We recommend bringing a hat and sunscreen.”

Lynda and Herb are both retired teachers. Running this challenge fulfills the part of them that misses teaching.

“I get to pretend I’m still in the classroom,” said Herb. “I can’t teach high school English anymore, but I can teach tennis,” he said.

“We dedicated our working lives to children. This is one way we can continue to do that,” added Lynda.

The couple have been playing tennis for many years. Herb began playing 60 years ago.

“I started playing when I was about 15,” he said.

“I started playing about 20 years ago,” noted Lynda. “Herb is a much better player than I am.”

The Duplisseas were active community members involved in urging the town to make necessary improvements to the town’s courts.

“When Herb first retired from teaching, we had strongly advocated for the town to take better care of the tennis courts,” said Lynda. Though it took some years for the town to secure the funding for court restorations, they have made improvements over the years.

“We congratulate the town for that,” said Herb.

Improvements are still needed, however the Duplisseas are happy to have functional courts to run this program that gets everyone out for some active fun, sharing a day of tennis.

“I feel joy from the expression on the children’s faces when they first make contact with the ball,” said Lynda.

Registration will happen at the court on the morning of the event.