CLARENDON HILLS – Sometimes a simple hobby can turn into a life-long passion, and for the lucky ones, a career.
Matt Burghgraef recently was named the new summer tennis director at the Clarendon Hills Park District, where he will be instructing the United States Tennis Association’s “Quick Start Tennis” program at Prospect Park.
But his love for tennis started when he was in grade school.
Ciamprone: When did you first get into tennis?
Burghgraef: I was in eighth grade, so I was probably about 13 when I started, that’s kind of when I started taking lessons. Prior to that, my parents would take my brother and me out to the parks a lot and we would just hit around, so it gave me a good foundation. Then, as my brother and I showed interest in it, they signed us up for lessons and then played high school tennis.
Ciamprone: What specifically about the game is appealing to you?
Burghgraef: One of my favorite aspects of it is that you need minimal equipment and you can just call up one person and play. It’s not like baseball, where you need nine people on a team even to get a game going. I really like that. On top of it, it’s also great exercise. It’s fun and you can do it your whole life.
Ciamprone: Have you competed in several tennis tournaments?
Burghgraef: Yes, currently I’m a USTA player, so I’m on a few different USTA teams and basically every weekend, for the most part, the teams will have a match around the suburbs. A couple years ago, my tennis team actually made it to the national tournament, which was pretty cool; that was in Tucson, Ariz.
Ciamprone: What made you want to come to the Clarendon Hills Park District?
Burghgraef: A teammate on my USTA team mentioned the job to me, and I got in touch with the Clarendon Hills Park District. I just thought it was cool that they were looking to build a program, and that’s something that I would like to be a part of.
Ciamprone: Can you tell me a little about the Quick Start Tennis program?
Burghgraef: It’s geared to allow kids to pick up tennis right away and be successful at it. That’s been a huge problem in the past because you would have 5-year-olds with adult racquets and it was really difficult for them to be successful. With the USTA program, it really helps them succeed at young ages and enables them to stay in the sport because if they’re not seeing success they’re a lot less likely to want to play.
Ciamprone: And you’re also leading a cardiovascular class?
Burghgraef: Yeah, cardio tennis, that’s geared towards adults. In cardio tennis, players will basically be moving throughout the whole time and they can get a really good workout while they play tennis – something they really like.
Ciamprone: How important is it for kids to get involved in tennis at an early age?
Burghgraef: It’s really important. I think that their opinions and feelings on tennis, if they’re developed early, children are more likely to be active for the rest of their lives. I think another great thing about tennis is it helps develop a lot of footwork and hand-eye coordination that can be used in a lot of other sports as well.
The tennis program begins June 16, and group, semiprivate and private lessons will be offered to both children and adults throughout the summer. Registration is currently underway at the Community Center, 315 E. Chicago Ave.
The Cardio Tennis program for adults at the Prospect Park courts will meet from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, June 17 through July 10, with the session being repeated from July 15 to Aug. 7.
For information, call 630-323-2626.