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May 26, 2014

Brumby’s camp has new tools for teaching

TIFTON — There has been a change at Mike Brumby's tennis camps. The longtime teacher of the game has gone ROGY. No, he has not gone rogue-y. Just ROGY.

ROGY is a new system for developing tennis players. Brumby said it was a way to "formalize balls for players." It takes its name from markings on tennis balls: red, orange, green and yellow.

"I think it's going to revolutionize the game," he said last week.

In past times, players started out with the regulation-size rackets and the regular yellow tennis ball. The size was difficult for the kids to wield he said and with the yellow ball being the same as the pros use, the game was faster and harder to pick up.

Red balls — actually red and yellow or yellow with a big red dot — are for beginners, intended for use for ages 6-8. It is a larger ball than the other varieties and is for 36' courts. They are softer and do not bounce as high. The orange ball is for the next group. Brumby showed it to be the same size as regulation and that it bounces a bit better. It is for 60' courts and ages 9-10. Green is for ages 10+ and normal length courts, then players graduate to the familiar yellow ball.

Brumby had a chance to show off the red ball Monday morning as he and wife, Moppy, and a group of volunteers worked with eight young players. When describing his sessions with his youngest group last week he said, "we keep it fun." It seemed to be just that for those learning.

After a brief introduction, the players went out on the courts where they went through a variety of exercises to get used to the ball. First was a soft toss, then bouncing the ball back and forth. Brumby next had them pick up their rackets and demonstrated trapping the ball with their hand against the strings.

Then it was time for a break, but it was not a break to discuss tennis. He was interested in what books the kids were reading.

Finally, it was time to combine the two. Volleys and rallies, first from short distance, then over the nets.

Brumby believes the red ball is going to make a big difference.

"I like the red ball a lot," he said. Combined with the size of the rackets — a suggested 21 inches for kids ages 6-8 — he said it was easier for the players to control. "Tennis should have gone to it long ago."

He is still running his annual competitions, starting this Friday at ABAC with the familiar Brumby ladder. There will be a singles tournament on July 11 and doubles tournament July 18. A special family event is planned for July 4.

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