When current Monterrey, California resident Eric Miller compares the childhood he spent in Laurinburg to now, he believes things aren’t quite the same.
“I remember riding bikes with my friends and spending a lot of time outside,” Miller said. “Now today is a beautiful day, and you don’t see any kids outside because they’re watching TV and playing video games. I try to keep my kids busy and encourage them to play outside.”
The urge to see his two children Eipponee and Nassier maintain an active lifestyle is precisely why Miller introduced them to the sport of tennis two years ago. It’s also why Miller will be enrolling them into the Scotland County Tennis Center youth summer tennis clinics that are set to begin next week.
Once a multi-sport athlete at Scotland High School himself, Miller had a passing interest in tennis but never pursued it because of peer pressure. And seeing the potential opportunities that the sport may create for his kids in the future, Miller regrets not giving the sport a try in hindsight.
“I think a lot of young black kids don’t think to try tennis because they fear what their peers may think,” Miller said. “A lot of them may never know where this sport could take them in life, and that’s a shame because they should be proud to try something different. I made the same mistake as a kid myself.”
“There’s a lot of negativity out there, and I’m for anything that can bring positivity into my child’s life,” said lifelong Maxton resident Kevin Pipkin, cousin of Miller whose son Kevin Jr. also picked up the sport recently. “It’s an individual sport where everything you do is on you, so the discipline and hard work can only come from yourself. Tennis was something that I never even considered trying growing up.”
For 11 year-old Eipponee Miller, playing the sport of tennis has already opened doors that wouldn’t have been possible had she never picked up a racket. Along with her 8 year-old brother Nassier, Miller has attended and participated in several tournaments at Stanford University in their native California, and the siblings even had the chance to meet all-time women’s tennis great Serena Williams because of their love for the sport.
“When I went to Stanford and watched older people and high school teams play, my first thought was that I couldn’t wait to get older and compete with them,” Eipponee Miller said. “I like sports but this is my favorite one.”
The youth tennis clinics are scheduled to begin June 25th at 9:00 a.m., and are open to ages 5-16. Scotland High School tennis coach Jeanne Roller will be hosting the clinics, which will occur every Monday and Wednesday for the remainder of the summer months ahead.
Attendees will see Kevin Pipkin Jr. there, as the 9 year-old spent the June 18th afternoon hitting tennis balls for the first time ever at the Scotland County Tennis Center. And while the sport never appealed to him when he was younger, Pipkin Jr. decided to give it a try due to his love for baseball and the hopes that tennis would improve his hand-eye coordination.
He now sees tennis having a role in his future.
“I’ve been practicing really hard at it, and I really enjoy doing it,” said Pipkin Jr., who was influenced to try tennis just three weeks ago after hearing about the experiences his cousins Eipponee and Nassier had with the sport. “Maybe I’ll play for Scotland High School one day.”
For more information on the Scotland County Tennis Center youth tennis clinics, contact Tom Sheller at 277-2592.