Camps Bring Top College Coaches to Richmond
By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer
Seven years ago, Cris Robinson was trying to figure out a way to get an intense week of training for one of his students.
From his college days at Clemson, Robinson recalled that schools are allowed 20 hours a week to work with athletes in most sports.
So Robinson began contacting some college coaches of his acquaintance, and thus was born the College Week Tennis Camps, which started as one week during the summer with five coaches but has grown into an outstanding site for aspiring juniors.
Two sessions are held each summer at Willow Oaks Country Club, where Robinson is the director of tennis. When Robinson started the program, he was the director of tennis at Robious Sports and Fitness (now Midlothian Athletic Club).
Among the coaches attending this year’s sessions are Brian Boland, who guided the University of Virginia men’s team to the NCAA championship in May, former Richmonder Bob Bayliss of Notre Dame and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Paul Kostin.
“Cris Robinson has done a remarkable job of providing these young, aspiring tennis players the opportunity to learn from some of the best college coaches in the country,” said Boland, whose Cavaliers are consistently among the top teams in the nation.
“He has a diverse group of coaches with a wealth of experience at every level of the game.”
The first camp was held in June and the second will be Aug. 12-16. There are still one or two spots open for that session, Robinson said.
These camps are primarily for tournament players with an interest in playing college tennis. They introduce youngsters 12-18 to what college team practices are like and include personalized instruction from the coaches. The fee is $595 per week.
“From the players and the coaches and the pros, I hear frequently that it’s as high-quality and as intense as any camp they’ve ever seen,” said Robinson.
“It’s unique in the sense that you have a lot of the best college coaches from around the country and you get to hear from them daily. You get to take part in what they’re teaching their own players and the type of practicing and drills they’re doing with their own teams.”
Between the morning and afternoon sessions each day, juniors will have nearly 30 hours of instruction during the week.
“The College Week Tennis Camp that Cris Robinson puts on at Willow Oaks is an unreal event,” said Virginia Tech coach Jim Thompson, one of the instructors.
“It gives the players in our state a chance to be exposed to different styles of coaching and gets them thinking about the process of choosing a college, and the relationship they might have with a coach. It also gives them a chance to play under pressure.
Other college coaches on the list of instructors include ex-Richmonder Jay Bruner (College of Charleston), John Roddick (brother of Andy Roddick and coach at Oklahoma), Peter Daub (William and Mary), Brian Kalbas (North Carolina) and Mark Wesselink (Richmond).
In addition to Robinson, other area pros take part in the camp, including Eddie Parker (Raintree Swim and Racquet Club), Joe Cappellino (Dominion Club), Mark Bernstine (Hermitage CC), Scott Steinour (Salisbury CC) and Julie Ogborne (Country Club of Virginia).
These pros are members of the Association of Richmond Tennis Professionals, who support the camps, as does the Richmond Tennis Association.
“The RTA is proud to again support College Week Tennis Camps,” said Ginny Wortham, president of the RTA. “Cris Robinson and his team work hard to bring some of the very best college coaches in the country to Richmond.
“The quality of this camp is just one more way we know that Richmond really is a great tennis town.”
For more information or to see about signing up, call 804-320-3244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There is a place for everyone in college tennis,” said Boland, “and college week provides these young people the knowledge they need to make a successful transition.”