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CLINTON, Okla. — They gathered before the sun got too high over Red Tornado Country.

The teachers offering this free clinic were former OU Tennis Coaches Mark Johnson and Paul Lockwood.

The students, all kids from Clinton and western Oklahoma, were there to learn to hit or to learn to hit better.

“We’re just here to talk tennis today,” announced Johnson, “And to have fun.”

Both Johnson and Lockwood are members of the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame so they’re naming this series of clinics accordingly.

Johnson, who coached the OU women’s team for 20 years, grew up on the public courts in Henryetta.

“They have to start early. They really do,” he said. “I started playing when I was about 3 years old.”

Another teacher here, Oklahoma Tennis Foundation Carmen Bond, grew up on Guthrie’s public courts and learned a lot more than how to serve and volley.

“We’re teaching them sportsmanship,” said Bond, “And how to have confidence in what they’re doing.”

Paul Lockwood took on teaching the finer points of a two-fisted backhand.

He argued, “They are short of being 50% better simply because they didn’t know the technique.”

Coach Johnson taught his girls how to take a little speed off their forehands.

“We just do easy swings,” said one 2nd grad student.

The town of Clinton boasts a nice set of public courts.

No cracks or sagging nets here.

It’s a good place to learn the game, and, on this day, to learn from some of the best.

“I just love tennis,” states another beginner girl. “It’s my favorite sport.”

The Oklahoma Hall of Fame Tennis Clinic series is offered free of charge to children between the 2nd and 8th grades.

Click here for more information. 

Is This a Great State or What? is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union.