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Sunrise Elementary in Eastwood gets a feel for USA School Tennis

September 16, 2005 03:36 PM


This fall semester, nearly 500 grade school students at Sunrise Elementary in Eastwood are being introduced to the sport of tennis for the first time through USA School Tennis, an ambitious education program co-sponsored by USA Tennis Florida and the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Sunrise Elementary is the latest school in Orange County to join the national program launched 20 years ago in a push to expose children to what is known as the “sport of a lifetime.”

The USA School Tennis concept originated in 1985 as a way to introduce and teach tennis to children in school through either their physical education classes or in after school programs.

Associate Executive Director, Community Tennis for USA Tennis Florida Andy McFarland notes that with more than 2.5 million students enrolled in public and private schools in Florida alone, there is a big push for getting children involved in more active after-school programs. Tennis is just what the doctor ordered.

“Offering tennis to children is not only a great physical activity but wonderful for socializing and for fighting the obesity battle today’s American youth face,” McFarland said. “This is an activity that they can learn at a young age and continue playing for the rest of their lives.”

The USTA and USA Tennis Florida offer after-school and start-up grant monies to member schools to assist new programs like these.  When Sunrise joined the USTA this school year, it received myriad benefits, including free and discounted equipment and balls from national USA School Tennis Sponsor Wilson!

Tennis now is a key part of the P.E. curriculum every Friday, thanks to volunteer and Waterford Lakes’ resident CT Nguyen, a certified teaching professional who has taught tennis to children and adults in Virginia and Florida since 1992. Nguyen, an electronics engineer with the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEOSTRI), donates two hours on Fridays to teach the school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders the basics of the game. He will continue this until the school’s P.E. teacher is capable of taking over and continuing the program.

When that day arrives and the racquet is passed, Nguyen will search for another local school and initiate the program all over again. Until then he’s enjoying himself at Sunrise – and the feeling is mutual.

“The response to this program has been overwhelming from the start – from the kids, to the teachers to the parents,” says Nguyen. “We started with 150 kids and now that number is up to 500 who are learning tennis.”

McFarland would like to see other schools follow Sunrise’s lead and get on board with the USA School Tennis program. To find out more about joining this unique program, visit the USA Tennis Florida website at www.usatennisflorida.com , click Community Tennis and follow the menu to USA School Tennis.

By John Jolinski
Phone: 407-281-0074







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