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Gardnerville boy gets early jump on tennis competition

Donnie Nelson

James TenBroeck is a prodigy. At the tender age of 3, he has already taken 17 lessons in the increasingly youth-dominated sport of tennis. He has a tennis net backboard in the family’s garage on which he practices every day, counting how many times he can hit the ball back in a row. It’s a little too early to tell, but coach Bill Welch thinks TenBroeck’s career is off on the right foot.

“James is big for his age – strong, well coordinated,” Welch said. “He has the capacity to conceptualize stroke mechanics and to produce the sought results. Starting so young and with such good parent support, it looks like James is destined to excel at tennis.”

James’ parents, Greg and Karen TenBroeck, are avid tennis players. While James was still a baby, he watched his parents play. As soon as he started walking, he picked up a racket and started hitting balls. At the age of 2 he expressed an interest in tennis and started watching it on the television. The lessons started at the age of 3.

“James is very determined. After explaining a stroke technique he says, ‘Throw me a ball and I will show you,'” Welch said. “He states that ‘When I hit the ball it makes me feel big.'”

The traditional young age to start tennis is 5, according to Welch. TenBroeck’s lessons last 30 minutes, and he stays well focused the entire time. He can hit seven different types of shots and can also throw the ball up and hit a one-handed serve.

He uses a short children’s racket and hits two-handed on both sides. Yes, he can hit a backhand. The forehand, which he can hit with power and a degree of angle placement, is his best stroke, according to Welch.

James’ sister, Kari Lee, watches him play. She may be the next youngest student in Welch’s tennis development classes. His grandparents, Jim and Donna TenBroeck, also live in Gardnerville and are very supportive of James’ tennis career.

“I would like to acknowledge my gratitude for Lampe Park’s junior tennis court usage policy in regards to lessons,” Welch said.

TenBroeck is the youngest student Welch has ever worked with, but the teacher is impressed with his student’s ability and concentration.

Sometimes a young prodigy makes it and sometimes he doesn’t. But, TenBroeck appears to be right on track to accomplish something special in the future.