NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Marcus Hooks started teaching tennis to children four years ago for Slammer Tennis World. He’s as astonished about his own growth as a tennis instructor as he is about the development of the kids he coaches.
“When I first started, I said this is not for me,’’ said Hooks, a recent graduate of Brien McMahon High School. “I’ll never be able to teach tennis to the kids like Slammer Tennis World owner, Coach Marvin Tyler.
"However, now that he has taught me the proper way to teach tennis to the kids, now all of the kids in the program tell me I’m just like Coach Marvin, which is a nice compliment. From not knowing how to demonstrate all the steps, like even how to feed them balls, to what I’m teaching now is a big change. It’s a big surprise how much I’ve improved.”
Tyler started teaching Hooks tennis when he was 7 years old in Stamford. He stayed with the sport and now teaches for Slammer Tennis World programs in Norwalk and Stamford, teaching all levels and ages of players.
“The hardest thing was relating to the kids and using the correct grip to feed the balls the proper way; the way Coach Marvin taught me,'' Hooks said. “When you’re working with kids, you can’t use the same grip that you used to play with when you are playing tennis because the kid will never hit the ball. I had to go back to a grip I hadn’t used in a long time. To change back to that grip was a big change.”
Hooks’ dedication to tennis has paid dividends. He was a four-year member of the varsity tennis team at Brien McMahon, where he played No. 1 doubles this past spring. He received a partial scholarship to play at Bethany College in West Virginia. He is the first player coached by Tyler to advance to the collegiate level.
“It surprises me how far I’ve come since I started,’’ Hooks said. “My dad always told me basketball will not get you anywhere, you should try tennis. I was like, ‘Uh, yeah, whatever.’ Then in my junior year I started getting emails from college coaches. He was actually right. Hard work did pay off.”
Hooks gave up basketball when his family moved from Stamford to Norwalk when he was in sixth grade. “I still play basketball every once in a while for fun’’ he said. But he is focused on his tennis and feels his development can in part be traced back to his work with kids.
“It helped my game, because all of the little, small steps I forgot growing up I had to remember to teach the kids,’’ Hooks said.
He will head to Bethany in August. “I’m just excited about a whole new experience, Getting independence and not having Coach Marvin or my dad tell me I have to go practice,’’ he said. “Now I’ll have to go out and practice and push myself. It’s a whole new experience in life.”
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