Each summer hundreds of kids gather at the UCLA Tennis Center for one very important purpose: to have a blast at the UCLA Billy Martin Tennis Camps. The participants range in age from 7 to 18 and their levels are from beginning to high performance. A recent addition includes the USTA’s 10-and-Under Tennis program.
“I’m a believer in progression tennis and using red, orange and green dot balls as teaching tools in my tennis camps,” Martin said. “It allows juniors to start their development with success and it gives them early opportunities to rally on a smaller tennis court.”
This year, the camp offered six weeks of outstanding instruction, tournament play, hitting, fundamental training, games and much more. The program has daily and resident options, and in each, the children are supervised by an outstanding staff of accomplished collegiate players. Many have competed for UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Albright College, UC San Diego, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, Albright College, Minnesota State University Mankato, Fresno State University, Azusa Pacific University, Claremont McKenna College and Texas Christian University to name a few.
“We have a great staff and a lot of them are former campers,” said Coach Grant Chen, the UCLA Assistant Camp Director. “They had a fantastic experience as campers when they were kids, and they want to come back and be part of the staff.”
Brooke Ronney, a senior at Albright College, was a camper for over eight years. Some of her fondest childhood memories include playing each summer at the Billy Martin Tennis Camps. Now the No. 1 player for Albright, Ronney is an instructor and teaches summers and holidays at the UCLA based program. In recent years, she taught with older sister, Alexis Ronney, a former counselor and camper. Alexis was an outstanding player from Minnesota State University Mankato, and taught at Billy Martin Tennis Camps for about five years.
“When I was a camper, I used to admire the counselors and I couldn’t wait to become one,” said Brooke Ronney, who is also certified to teach 10-and-Under Tennis. “I learned a lot from them. Now I can give back and teach the kids what I know and watch them improve. It feels really good to see them use their new skills.”
Coach Martin, a U.S. and international junior star, was a freshman at UCLA in 1975. He led the Bruins to their NCAA National Division I Championship that year, and captured the NCAA singles title. He played on the pro tour, and in 1977, was a singles quarterfinalist at Wimbledon. He was also an outstanding doubles player and won many titles, but retired in 1982 due to a hip injury.
Coach Martin’s incredible tennis accomplishments and knowledge of the game created a path to become the UCLA Men’s Assistant Coach for 11 years under former UCLA Men’s Head Coach Glenn Bassett. Coach Martin took over the Head Coach position in 1994. However, Basset and Martin teamed up to lead UCLA tennis camps for 35 years. Coach Martin has been solo at the camp helm since 1998.
Coach Grant Chen, who is also the UCLA Men’s Associate Head Coach, works closely with Coach Martin. Both are instrumental in developing all facets of the UCLA camp program that includes teaching fundamentals, training, fitness, and player performance. In recent years, Coach Martin has included the USTA’s new 10-and-Under Tennis program.
This summer, Coach Martin’s program offers:
- Singles & doubles match play and tournament play
- Movement & conditioning mechanics
- Teaching aids such as ball machines and backboards
- Videotape and instant replay analysis
- Daily instruction and drills, individually and in small groups
- Coaching fundamentals: grips, footwork, etc
- USTA’s 10-and-Under Tennis curriculum and training
- Fun off-court activities and crafts for campers
“It’s a wide range of hats we all wear as coaches, mentors and instructors,” Chen said. “It’s important to take care of the needs of all of the players at each level. This means we strive to nurture players mentally, physically and emotionally on and off the court. But at the end of the day, we want to make sure they are having fun!”