Joseph Crocker knows his way around a tennis court, so much so that in January he accepted the Maine Tennis Association’s 2017 Recreation Department of the Year award on behalf of Lewiston Recreation.

Crocker’s been a program coordinator for almost two years and in the recreational field in one way or another for 12.

He’s kindly offered advice that applies to marriage and tennis and rackets.

(And if you live in Lewiston and have an interested youth age 5 and up, the summer tennis program starts in July.)

Age: 30

Lives: Windham

What was the variety of sports you played in high school and college? Basketball, cross country, lacrosse.

What was it about tennis that made it stand out? I use to play it recreationally with my best friend growing up, and also my father played. It was never a sport that I appreciated until I got to college and started finding people to play against and I figured out that there was a social aspect of tennis that anyone can pick it up and play, which is what you want out of a sport.

Lewiston Rec has a sizable tennis program — tell us about it. Lewiston has a sizable tennis program because of LHS Girls’ Tennis Coach Anita Murphy starting the youth tennis program years ago. This has led to multiple state championships for LHS boys’ and girls’ tennis teams throughout the years. The last couple of years we have been working with United States Tennis Association (USTA) New England. We have developed a progression system for tennis that you can participate in from age 5 to 18. Like any recreation department, it is key to have support from the high school athletic programs because we are the feeder system for their sports teams. We have a great relationship with Athletic Director Jason Fuller and his coaching staff. We employ a few high school tennis players for the summer tennis program and the kids get excited about that!

Most common thing you see casual tennis players doing wrong? I would say racket size for the youth player is what I see as the most common mistake. The beautiful thing about tennis is that anyone can hit a ball, and I find that parents want to hit the ball with their children, but you will see young players with giant adult-sized rackets. It is important to have the right size equipment for young players to ensure they are having fun hitting the ball back at their parents!

Does your — or does anyone’s — favorite racket have a name? My friend and I both had Fischer Magnetics. One yellow and one red. He named them Optimus Prime and Bumblebee after Transformer characters.

Before stepping out on the court for the first time, should you worry about being in great shape? Warming up? You should always start at the net doing nice gentle shots to your partner and then backing up to the baseline as you get warmed up. This is if you are planning on playing hard. There are not many injuries for recreational tennis.

You give lessons to kids as young as 4. Your cutest little kids and tennis story? I had one 4-year-old player, who was tired from the hot summer day, say he just wanted to be the ball boy the rest of the program time . . . he just ended up sitting down in the middle of the court.

How often will you get out on the court this summer between work and fun? My wife and I try to get out at least once a week.

You’re playing a match with your wife. This day you’ve won, by a lot. How much or how outwardly do you celebrate the victory? We don’t keep score. That is the best way to play tennis with your spouse . . .

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Joseph Crocker (Submitted photo)


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