Church offers free tennis program

1 of 3

Stephanie Battle, Denise Dunn and Natakey Owens, from right, share a laugh with tennis instructor J.P. Battle during a lesson on Wednesday as they participate in the tennis component of Word Tabernacle Church's SOAR program.


Staff Writer

Sunday, July 28, 2019

A free summer tennis program is getting ready to start at Sunset Park.

SOAR Tennis is sponsored by Word Tabernacle Church and organized by the Rev. Stephanie Battle, an associate pastor at the church. The sessions are open for anyone in the community to attend.

Students are invited to bring their own racket, water and towel and meet Battle at the Sunset Park tennis courts at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday. Battle said she will be the one wearing a bright orange or pink T-shirt.

“Tennis is such a great whole-body workout,” Battle said. “I started learning tennis after my second child was born, over 10 years ago. I was blown away at what a good workout it was and how fun it was.”

Word Tabernacle offers several physical fitness group programs throughout the year and Battle said the SOAR Tennis sessions are one of her favorite ways to get her church family moving.

“We focus on teaching the basics, things like proper swing techniques and how to serve,” Battle said. “Some people that come have never picked up a racket, some know how to play and just look forward to having some new people to play with and help out. It’s just a fun way for us to hang out together while doing something healthy.”

The camps are open to the public and you do not have to be a member of Word Tabernacle — or any church — to attend.

“You don’t have to bring people into your church to share with them, to be friendly and fellowship together,” Battle said. “We bring our church out into the community. The church belongs to the community, so it’s our responsibility to share the light outside the church walls.”

Battle said she considers sharing a fun game of tennis with a new friend or helping a teen who never has swung a racket a great way to fellowship with others.

Battle’s father-in-law, John Battle, is the official coach at the camp. John Battle is a retired Nash Rocky Mount Public Schools tennis coach who has been coaching for about 45 years.

One member of Word Tabernacle, Linda Mann, 56, plans on joining the camp when it starts next week. She said she and her daughter, Julanda Mann, 22, first tried the SOAR Tennis program three years ago and have both learned to love the game.

“I didn’t even have a racket the first night we came. Coach Battle had some extras in his car that he let us borrow,” Mann said. “He is such a good teacher. He’s so patient and really makes sure you get the techniques down. It’s really fun.”

Mann said there is no need to go buy a fancy racket and most people can find an inexpensive racket at Walmart or even at a local thrift store.

“And ask your family and friends,” Mann said. “You’d be surprised how many people have a tennis racket tucked away in a closet that they don’t use anymore.”

Mann said her best advice to anyone considering joining the program is to be ready to have fun.

“Even if you’re a beginner, you’d be surprised how good you can get so fast and how much fun it is,” she said.

Battle said she would like people to pre-register with her, mainly so she can keep in touch with participants about cancellations due to weather. To sign up, email Battle at stephanie.battle@wordtab.net or just come on the first night and do it there.