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Special Olympics Tennis Carnival for Leon County

April 13, 2006 12:49 PM

photos courtesy of Karen MacFarland

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More than 250 special needs children representing all Leon County public schools participated in a FREE Special Olympics Tennis Carnival with their teachers and aides on Friday, April 7 at the Forestmeadows Park and Athletic Center in Tallahassee.  The event was held in conjunction with the Tallahassee Challenger, a USTA Pro Circuit event.

With the help of more than 30 local volunteers, including professional player Thomas Blake, the Special Olympics event was a wonderful success!

USTA Florida Community Consultant Kelly Tucker organized the event with Leon County public schools Adaptive Physical Education Coordinator Melba Jacobs.  The children played tennis games and learned drills, and then they ate pizza.

This year, a $2,000 USTA grant was allocated to the tournament for community events throughout the week of the challenger.  The funds were used to buy equipment, pay professional fees and buy prizes and treats for the participants.

One high school participant was so excited to be out on a tennis court for the first time in his life.

“This is the first time that I ever held a tennis racquet,” he said.  “This is so much fun!”

Reported by Jennifer Jefferson in an April 8 Tallahassee Democrat article:

"'Tennis is a sport that's for everyone,' said tournament director Karen Vogter.

Most of these kids are not interested in winning the U.S. Open. They just want a chance to play."

And play they did!

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