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Program co-director John Karampatsos returns a serve during play in the Haverhill Recreation Department's Adult Tennis Program at the John Lynch Courts at Winnekenni Park.

From newbies learning the game to veterans who have been serving and volleying for years, the city's tennis scene is booming this summer at the John Lynch Courts at Winnekenni Park.

"There are about 150 kids playing in the mornings as part of the Recreation Department's youth tennis program. And then a lot of the kids' parents, plus people who have been playing with us for years, are coming to play at night in the adult program," said John Karampatsos, who along with Dave Reed run the Adult Tennis Program, a popular six-week program that Karampatsos launched in 1988 when he was coaching boys' tennis for Haverhill High School.

"It's great to see, because there aren't too many public tennis programs around in the area anymore."

In addition to the city's successful youth and adult tennis programs, the recent Haverhill City Tennis Tournament had its most participants in over a decade.

Last year, Karampatsos and Reed started a Mixed Doubles Tournament as part of the Adult Tennis Program. The 15-team, single-elimination tourney was a hit, said Karampatsos, and was captured by Lauren Kimball and Zach Eldridge who defeated Kara Kimball and Glenn Kimball, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.

"Last year, everyone had a ball (in the Mixed Doubles Tournament)," Karampatsos said. "It's a fun event and it's also the city's mixed doubles championship, so people take it seriously."

This year's Mixed Doubles Tournament kicked off last week at the John Lynch Courts with 19 teams playing, including the defending champions and runner-ups. The tourney will continue this week.

And while there's some serious slamming and jamming going on in the tourney, the Adult Tennis Program, which draws nearly 40 people each session, is also about camaraderie and catching up with folks who players may not have seen since the summer before.

"It's a good group of people (in the tennis program), and it's a nice way to spend a couple of nights per week during the summer," said Melinda Barrett, who has been involved in the adult tennis program for the past eight years.

"People keep showing up year after year," said Karampatsos, who mixes and matches players on the court so they have an opportunity to play with others of the same ability and to play with people they may not know.

"Once people have joined, very few drop out. It's a very loyal crew," Karampatsos said. "I'll ask them, 'Wouldn't you rather be at the beach, instead of playing tennis?' But they keep coming, and some have been involved for over 10 years."

Reed said that many of the young adults involved in the adult program started in the youth program.

"It's nice to see people continue playing tennis," said Reed, who has coached the Haverhill High girls' tennis team for over 20 years.

Karampatsos, who grew up in Haverhill and was a longtime city educator, remembers back when he was younger and "kids were playing tennis all over the city."

"More kids today are playing at private clubs," Karampatsos said. "But we are getting a great turnout for the programs at Winnekenni. And people seem to be having fun playing tennis."



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