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A Grand Slam for Unsuspecting Cambridge School of Dallas Students
SpringPark Tennis, Garland, TX: In July 2023, seven friends from the Cambridge School of Dallas came together for some summer tennis and were surprised by the amazing opportunity of being coached by John Eagleton. Eagleton is a former South African professional tennis player who is currently the Executive Director of Tennis for SportsEdTV, a founder of the Eagleton/Ferreira Tennis Academy, director and founder of the Kriek Eagleton Tennis Academy (2004–2009), and former personal coach of two-time doubles Grand Slam winner Ellis Ferreira.
It all began when the school friends—The Cambridge School of Dallas students Henry L., Thomas L., Brendan N., Ajim T., Braden P., Jen M., and another student—decided to get together during the summer break for some tennis. The Cambridge School of Dallas is a private, classical Christian School in Dallas, Texas. Brothers Henry L. and Thomas L. regularly participate in junior tennis drills at SpringPark Tennis under the direction of Steve Nolen. They invited some of their Cambridge friends to join them for junior development this summer. Little did these students know that Coach Nolen had a special surprise for them—Coach Eagleton.
A few of the students had been on the Cambridge tennis team, while others had never played before. Ranging from moderate to no tennis experience, Eagleton had them hitting the ball with well-formed strokes at SpringPark in just a few days with his modern playing techniques. And it was not long before he had the students cheering on one another. Ajim T. and his cousin, Jen M., had never played tennis before, but after
watching Eagleton’s welcoming and encouraging instruction for a little bit, they joined right in. It was obvious that while Eagleton wanted to help improve their play, he was teaching these students something even more valuable—a love of tennis and how the sport can bring people together positively.
The drills were focused, but the water and shade breaks were full of smiles and laughter despite the Texas summer heat. SpringPark Tennis is tucked away in a private park in Garland, Texas. Large trees surround the ten courts, so there is plenty of shade. Thanks to the generosity of the SpringPark HOA, memberships are offered to non-residents, and tennis lessons are open to non-members. And some students took advantage of the pool beside the courts to cool off after their drills.
A smiling Eagleton told parents, “Normally, I work with pros from all over the world, but I love doing this with the young, newer players.” And to the parents, that statement rang true as they sat in the shaded rocking chairs overlooking the courts, observing his energetic and enthusiastic instruction of their children.
When asked, Henry L., Thomas L., and Brendan N. all agreed that Eagleton had improved their backhand and made them feel much better about their skill with that stroke. And Jen M., who is new to the sport, said it was “challenging but fun.”
Whether they go on to be great tennis players or not, for these Cambridge students, it was more than a summer tennis session is a memory they will share and treasure for a lifetime.