Samford University Nike Tennis Camp
Improve your game and have serious fun
at Nike Tennis Camps
The Samford University Nike Tennis Camp in Alabama is a day camp for kids looking to improve their tennis game and have a blast! Our junior tennis camp in Birmingham, AL offers top notch instruction, supervised match play and plenty of fun!
This summer tennis camp in the South teaches boys and girls important tennis fundamentals as well as ways to improve their technique and increase their self-confidence.
- Instruction from Samford tennis coaches, David Vest and Rahim Esmail
- 5-6 hours of daily tennis training; low camper to staff ratio
- Safe, healthy and fun environment
- View More Details ⟩
Co-Director David Vest
David Vest is in his ninth season as head coach at Samford. He was named to the position Aug. 2, 2007, and has led the Bulldogs to a pair of conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.View David Vest's Bio ⟩
Vest, one of the top young coaches in the nation, has already garnered six Coach of the Year accolades, including being named the 2015 Southern Conference Coach of the Year and the 2014 Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) Southern Region Coach of the Year.
In 2015, the Bulldogs’ head coach led his squad to both the regular-season SoCon title, as well as the SoCon Tournament championship. Samford finished the campaign with a brilliant 10-0 record against league opponents, including a 4-1 triumph over ETSU in the SoCon Tournament final.
Vest’s 2015 squad opened the year in stellar fashion by winning the doubles point at No. 10-ranked Georgia in the prestigious ITA Kickoff Classic. Samford faced four nationally-ranked opponents throughout the season and opened the campaign as the No. 71-ranked team in the country.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a 7-0 SoCon record and an 8-2 mark when playing in the friendly confines of the Samford Tennis Center.
Vest was named the Southern Region Coach of the Year in 2014 after he led the Bulldogs to a 20-3 overall record, their best mark in school history.
Vest joined 12 coaches from across the nation in receiving regional coach of the year honors. The Bulldogs, members of the ITA’s talent-laden Southern Region, finished 20-3 on the season, 8-1 in SoCon play and 4-1 versus regional opponents.
Samford’s only losses in 2014 occurred against No. 21-ranked Auburn, No. 68 Furman and Elon.
The Bulldogs finished the year ranked No. 69 in the ITA national rankings, their highest ranking in school history. Samford also spent a school-record seven weeks listed amongst the country’s top 75.
In 2014, the Vest-led Bulldogs strung together a spectacular 10-match winning streak and advanced to the championship match of the SoCon Tournament.
Samford concluded its 2014 campaign being triumphant in 18 of its last 20 matches.
As a team, the Bulldogs dominated play in both singles and doubles in 2014. Samford finished the year with a stellar 101-27 record in the singles competition, as well as a brilliant 49-17 mark in dual-match doubles play.
In 2012, Vest’s Samford squad finished the season with a stellar 15-6 overall record and a 6-4 mark against conference opponents. The Bulldogs finished fourth in the SoCon standings and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the postseason tournament held in Charleston, S.C.
Just two years earlier, in Samford’s second year as a member of the SoCon, Vest’s squad registered a 9-1 conference record and a second-place finish in the league. Samford finished the season with a 17-6 overall mark and advanced to the semifinal round of the 2010 SoCon Tournament.
During the 2010 spring campaign, the Bulldogs defeated the 67th-ranked Tulane Green Wave and compiled a nine-match winning streak. Two of Samford’s six losses that season came against nationally-ranked opponents Mississippi State and North Florida.
In 2007–08, Vest guided the Bulldogs to the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship and the OVC Tournament title. Samford finished the season with a 10-0 record in conference play and set the school’s all-time record for wins with 20.
The Bulldogs also finished the 2007–08 campaign as the 13th-ranked team in the talent-laden ITA South Region.
Prior to taking the reins at Samford, Vest served as the assistant head women’s coach at the University of Kentucky for two seasons. He helped coach a women’s team that was ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation in 2006, and produced a pair of All-Americans: Kim Coventry and Joelle Schwenk.
A relentless recruiter, Vest helped Kentucky earn the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2007, as determined by tennisrecruiting.net.
Prior to moving to the University of Kentucky, Vest was the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Morehead State for four seasons. He was named the OVC Coach of the Year in both 2002 and 2005 after he led the Eagles to school-record totals in wins each season.
During his first year at Morehead State in 2002, Vest helped a women’s team that finished eighth in the conference tournament the year before to a third-place finish. He earned a number of accolades with the Eagles and coached Morehead State’s first nationally-ranked NCAA singles performer, Greg Johnstone (#67 ITA ranking in 2005).
Before being named the head coach at Morehead State, Vest spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the program after he completed his eligibility as a member of the Eagles’ tennis team.
Vest was a four-year letterwinner at Morehead State and was named to the OVC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll following each season. He was also the Eagles’ team captain, and was the No. 1 singles and doubles player as a junior and senior.
Vest graduated from Morehead State with a degree in government and history in 1999. In 2008, he earned his master of arts degree in sports administration at Morehead State.
In high school, Vest was a four-time team Most Valuable Player at Morgan County Central High School in West Liberty, Ky., where he was named first-team All-State in his junior and senior seasons.
Co-Director Rahim Esmail
Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Samford men’s tennis team, Rahim Esmail has lifted the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament appearance, a Southern Conference Tournament championship, a 17-win season and a share of the 2012 SoCon title.View Rahim Esmail's Bio ⟩
Esmail, one of the hottest up-and-coming young coaches in the Southeast, piloted Samford to a 17-5 overall record in 2012 and finished with a stellar 9-1 mark in SoCon play in his first season as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
In 2013, Esmail helped Samford make history by earning the first No. 3 regional seed of both school and SoCon record. The Bulldogs also garnered their highest ranking in program history (No. 57) and snapped a 31-match, 52-year losing streak versus in-state rival Alabama.
Samford’s win over the Crimson Tide proved to be its first against a ranked opponent in the school’s expansive tennis history. The Bulldogs also concluded the year ranked nationally (No. 62) for the first time.
In 2014, Samford opened dual-match play ranked No. 63 in the nation for the initial time in school history and was selected to compete in the sixth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend which was hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar's Head Sports Club.
On Oct. 19, 2011, Samford Director of Athletics Martin Newton tabbed Esmail as the head tennis coach.
“I’m excited to have Rahim join the Samford family,” said Newton. “His energy, enthusiasm and connections in the tennis world make him a great fit to take our program to the next level. What sold us on Rahim was his ability to compete at the highest levels in tennis, and his ability to relate and motivate young players to aspire to do the same. I’m excited about the future of Samford tennis under Rahim’s leadership.”
A former standout at the University of Kentucky, Esmail joined the Bulldogs after spending four years as an assistant with the University of Alabama women’s program.
Prior to his appointment at Alabama, Esmail spent one year as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Eastern Kentucky University while completing his course work for a master’s degree in sports administration. His responsibilities included on-court coaching, recruiting and various administrative tasks.
Esmail spent two years on the ATP Tour, where he reached the finals of three professional tournaments, once in singles and twice in doubles. He posted wins over top ATP Tour players such as Tommy Robredo, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner.
As a player at the University of Kentucky from 2001 to 2004, Esmail was a fixture at No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles for the Wildcats. In 2002, he went 31-4 in singles and 23-2 in doubles to help Kentucky climb to No. 4 in the national rankings, serving as a team captain for the Wildcats in his junior and senior seasons.
Esmail was ranked as high as No. 54 nationally in singles at Kentucky and attained a doubles rank as high as No. 8. As a junior, he was a six-time Canadian National singles finalist, a three-time junior Davis Cup team member, and winner of the 1998 national doubles championship. In 1999, Esmail competed in the junior French Open and the junior U.S. Open.
A native of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, Esmail is the son of Brenda and Karim Esmail. He graduated from Fraser Valley High School of Distance Education in Vancouver, B.C., in 2000. Esmail is a 2005 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a bachelor of arts degree in French and international economics.
We offer day camps that run Monday-Friday, from 9:00am-4:00pm, geared towards boys and girls, ages 9-18, of all skill levels.
2019 Camp Dates
- June 17-21
- June 24-28
All sessions are open to players of all abilities. Upon arrival, all participants are evaluated by the staff so that their own instructional needs can be addressed throughout the week. The All Skills program is designed for tennis players of any skill level and background. Campers will learn fundamentals and improve upon their game.
All Campers: Monday at 8:30am at the Samford Tennis Center.
All Campers: Friday at 12:00pm at the Samford Tennis Center.
Daily Program Schedule
- Monday: Campers should check-in at 8:30am and depart at 4:00pm.
- Tuesday-Thursday: Campers should arrive at 8:50am and depart at 4:00pm.
- Friday: Campers should arrive at 8:50am and depart at 12:00pm.
Campers will play on Samford's 6 outdoor and 3 indoor courts.
A detailed camper registration packet containing check in location, health/release forms, emergency contact info, and a list of things to bring will be emailed to all registered campers in the Spring. Our health and release forms do not require a doctor's signature and they will be collected on the first day of camp.
Camp Code: TNXRSM
Sample Daily Schedule
- 9:00am Stretching, Camp Meeting at Courts
- 9:15am Tennis Instruction
- 10:00am Break
- 10:15am Tennis Instruction and Drills
- 11:45am Lunch, Rest, Optional Tennis
- 1:15pm Tennis Program, Match Play
- 2:45pm Break
- 3:00pm Tennis Program, Doubles and Drills
- 4:00pm Conclusion of Daily Tennis Program
Camp ReviewsSubmit a review
Loved the coaches and being challenged
June 23, 2018: Kappy loved the coaches and being challenged to change her serve for the better.
— Ann P. - Parent
June 23, 2018: Love that she practices and gets better at tennis with excellent coaches, but also love that positive character, hard work and sportsmanship are encouraged and rewarded! Love that they access and divide groups accordingly.
— Gerald B. - Parent
Cannot imagine a better experience
July 01, 2018: My son LOVED the set up and competition. He won the 110% award at the end, which tells me the instructors were extremely motivating. I cannot speak highly enough about the Samford University instructors! Not only were they knowledgeable about tennis, they were so personable and made what could have been a long, hot, day so much fun for the kids.We travel from out of town for this camp, and this is our second year coming to this location for this camp. I honestly cannot imagine a better, more positive experience for my boys.
— Melanie C. - Parent
Made new friends
June 30, 2017: I made several new friends at the camp who I now stay in touch with and get together with even after the camp was over. The coaches were also very cordial and helpful when it came to answering any questions I had and giving me pointers on how to improve my game.
— Nicole B. Camper
Learned a lot
June 30, 2017: My daughter learned a great deal and most importantly, she had fun!!! Asked if she could return next year.
— Crystal O. Parent
Increased passion for tennis
June 30, 2017: Really increased my daughter passion for tennis
— Gerald B. Parent
We will definitely be sending him again
July 29, 2016: My son absolutely loved Nike tennis camp at Samford! He loved the instructors/coaches and the skills he learned during the week. We will definitely be sending him again next summer!
— Jennifer Y. Parent
July 28, 2016: I had a great time and have already asked if I can go next year!
— Ann Elise P. Camper
My child loved the camp
July 21, 2016: My child loved the camp. Already talking about next year.
— Richard M. Parent
loves Nike tennis camp!
July 14, 2016: Zach loves Nike tennis camp. Sad he couldn't go on the last day. He always looks forward to winning prizes. His game improved a lot.
— Lisa M. Parent
she improved a lot
July 14, 2016: My daughter had so much fun and felt that she improved a lot. She thought all of the instructors were very helpful, especially Raheem.
— Louisa J. Parent
learned a lot and improved
July 14, 2016: My 12 year old son has really enjoyed the camp and feels that he has learned a lot and improved his tennis skills. Thank you.
— Knox H. Parent
love the staff at Samford
July 14, 2016: We love the staff at Samford and look forward to attending yearly.
— April R. Parent
Great! Loved it!
July 15, 2015: Great!!! Loved it!! Wish you offered the camp more than twice a summer season!!!
— Gray J. Camper