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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:18 22:36:59

A group of players race to catch the ball during a game of jail.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:18 22:47:08

Alex Harrison, 11, prepares to hit the ball.

CLARKS SUMMIT — For Joe McNulty, teaching the game of tennis isn’t a job. It’s a passion.

“I want the kids here to know that tennis is a lifetime sport.” McNulty said. “The only way to improve is by staying with it.”

McNulty has been teaching the sport for as long as he can remember. The tennis aficionado led the Junior Tennis Camp at the Scranton Tennis Club from June 17-21. He works there as the club’s primary instructor for the Stroke of the Week adult lessons. He’s also been the club pro since 1986. McNulty recently retired as Scranton High School’s tennis coach, a position he held for 40 years. The former boys and girls tennis coach is a member of the National Tennis Instructors and High School Coaches Association.

McNulty was joined by guest clinician Cesar Leon, a former Wilkes University standout and club pro at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning in Bronx, New York. The camp’s instructors included Scranton Tennis Club Tennis Director John Weiss, Clarks Summit University Head Coach Kelly Arp and Scranton Prep Head Coach Kathleen McKenna.

“The instructors here are top level,” said McNulty. “They’re the best of the best. We’re definitely stroke-proficient here. Who better to teach it than these people?”

Tuesday’s torrential downpour didn’t discourage the 100-plus group of young tennis devotees who showed up Wednesday for hitting lessons. Seventy-two players participated during the morning sessions, which was primarily assigned for the beginners and younger players. The young and inexperienced players ran basic hitting drills and were taught proper form during the first half of their morning sessions. They applied their newly acquired backhand and forehand skills to singles and doubles volley sessions at the end of the day.

“I want the kids to feel moved when they’re playing but I want them to have fun at the same time,” said McNulty.

The advanced and older players’ sessions held in the afternoon were more intensive than the morning sessions. The 32 players were given advanced tutorials and saw heavier competition. For many of the seasoned participants, the camp was an opportunity to polish their skills.

“We have a great turnout this year,” said McKenna.

The cost of the five-day Junior Tennis Camp was $100 and included a T-shirt and a barbecue at the conclusion of camp. The barbecue was open to all camp participants and included prizes and awards.

Contact the writer: rcox@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 3005