Trip Intro;
Excursion to Poet's Seat Tower
A Tri-State Drive Thru Rural Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts
Shelburne Falls: Bridge of Flowers and Glacial Potholes
Tennis Camp at Amherst College
On the Road Again: From Amherst to Block Island
Block Island Discovery Part 1: God's Glory at Mohegan Bluffs
Block Island Discovery Part 2: Hiking, Biking, and Beaches
The South County of Rhode Island: Point Judith Light and Misquamicut
A Trip to America's Third Oldest Lighthouse
Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport;
The North Shore of Massachusetts
Trinity Church and the Back Bay of Boston

~~ Sunday, July 13 - Thursday, July 17 ~~

After a few hours of taking in the natural beauty of western New England, I finally made my way south to Amherst. Strange that I, a die-hard conservative, would find myself at one of the greatest bastions of liberal thought in the nation, Amherst College. But I was there for no political purpose. I was there to PLAY TENNIS! The Nike Tennis Camp held here was, from the comments of previous camp-goers, purported to be one of the best adult camps in the country. And it certainly seemed to be from my experience! Since I was busy on court for the five days I was there, I really didn't have much opportunity to break out the camera. But I did manage to get some pictures from my week at the college, and here they are, along with some extended commentary.

A statue of some guy near the Frost Library at Amherst college. The construction mess was everywhere.
The week that I attended camp, Amherst College was deep into various reconstruction efforts. They were building a couple new dorm buildings and a new entry and stairs to the commons building, among other things. Driving along the main road in front of the school was not fun, and there was orange restrictive fencing around everything to make walking anywhere difficult. However, I imagine when it's all done, the campus will be beautiful.

Many of the campers - including myself - who were staying in campus housing stayed in the dorm pictured below. I had the furthest room at the back corner of the building. It was damn near underground. My windows opened up about a foot off the ground. The weather in Amherst was fantastic, with cool nights and warm days. But my room ALWAYS had a permeating dampness. The humidity was ridiculous. No breeze came in thru the ground-level windows either. The
Cohan dorm where I stayed for the duration of camp.
worst part about all of this is that I could get none of my sweat-soaked clothing to dry. I always had fresh shorts, shirts, etc, but my caps and wristbands were problems. Luckily there was a dehumidifier constantly running in one of the nearby common rooms, so I put some of my wet items that needed immediate drying in front of the machine's fan. That certainly was a godsend.

The camp package I bought included my lodging and meals. We ate in the school cafeteria, and the food was always very good. Fresh soft serve ice cream was an evening favorite for everyone. Breakfast was difficult because we usually had to get up early and rush before heading to the courts. I tried to snag a few extra bananas every morning for energy throughout the day - that turned out to be a good idea! One of the bad things about the week, though, was that Nike was holding various sports camps there for junior players that week too. So during meals we'd be having to
The Amherst College courts are set in some beautiful surroundings.
mix and mingle with loud and rambunctious 8 to 16 year olds. Talk about annoying!

I was probably the youngest person amongst the adult campers, but I got along with everyone regardless. Most people were fun to talk to and were pretty cool. Most everyone was from New York and other places in the northeastern US. The last night of camp many of us got together and had a little get-together in the dorm with food and beer. Politics came up at one point (not my doing!), and there were some heated yet fun conversations about Bill Clinton. For once I didn't get involved - it was just fun to listen!

It was a workout just picking up the balls in between lessons!
The camp leader was an older fellow named Reiny (can't remember his full name), and he happened to be from Wisconsin, like myself! A couple of the pros on his staff were also from there, including Wade, the guy assigned to give my private lessons. That made talking to the staff pretty easy. Reiny's primary helper Mo is from Jamaica, and she was fun to learn from too. Most of the pros were pretty young, around my age. I think I ended up creating a minor controversy in camp because I didn't like the way Wade was showing me how to fix my backhand. I have a one-handed BH, but his is two-handed. He can teach both, but I was frustrated when another pro, Niko, was telling me I was doing things wrong. She offered to give me a free lesson to help fix the
We also got to play on clay courts. It made the ball bounce weird - I really didn't care for that surface. You'd slip around a lot and get all dirty too.
backhand, and it started working much better. The whole incident may have caused some bad feelings between Wade and Niko and some others. Oh well, I paid my money.

Camp lasted pretty much all day. We'd go from about 9 am to 11:30 doing drills and various lessons. Then we'd leave for lunch until 1:30. (2 hours seems like a long enough time, but it really wasn't - in fact, I was so tired one day, I fell asleep during lunch and came back to camp a half hour late. Reiny picked on me the rest of the day.) We'd do more stuff all afternoon, and break around 4:30 pm. Then if people wanted, we had optional guided match play time around 6:30. Since I paid for the stuff, of course I showed up for that! The first evening, Reiny sat us all down indoors for some free beer and snacks, which was cool. Another evening, around 9 or so, a couple of the pros and some of the other campers (me too) went to a local dive and sat outside drinking beer and eating bar food. I was too tired to stay out long
Break time meant cold lemonade underneath the trees.
though. On Wednesday the rain came, and we had to car pool to a nearby small private school that had three indoor courts. The lessons were much more condensed but we still had a good time.

I hope you enjoyed this retelling of my time at tennis camp. I'll tell you what - the whole week was fantastic. I learned a lot, met some interesting people, and enjoyed the time away from it all. Tennis has never been so fun!


Here are some more pictures showing me during some guided doubles play.

Preparing to thrash our opponents with my astounding net play. No, I'm not aiming for my doubles partner...
I will return your weak serve, and you will pay!!

Flowers and Potholes On the Way to Block Island
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