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Math Teacher Brings Lessons to Tennis Courts

May 15, 2007 03:38 PM

“The most important thing is that the focus is on the kids,” said Greg Pack, Pine Forest High School math teacher and tennis coach.  “Nothing can happen without the kids.”

Coach Pack is referring to the eighteen kids who are part of the new Pensacola Area USTA High School Tennis League he started April 28 at Pine Forest High School to give students the opportunity to play tennis after the tennis season is over.  The new league is mixed of boys and girls and acts like a club, except members consist of students from three local high schools in the Pensacola area; five students are from Pine Forest High School, nine from Pace High School and four from Woodham High School.  All players are USTA junior members and pay a one time fee of $30 which contributes to t-shirts, awards and an end of the season league championship and celebration.  

“Our goal was to have every high school in the area participate, but only three schools responded,” said Coach Pack.  “But you have to start somewhere right.”

Pine Forest High School is not the wealthiest of schools and Coach Pack acknowledges that players on the team need to be taught how to play the game by their high school coach; as opposed to players at more affluent schools where they come from tennis clubs ready to compete.  “The top high school tennis players take lessons and are taught by a tennis pro,” he explained.  “For those that don’t have that opportunity, this league is designed to keep all kids playing tennis and to develop their skills.”  In other words, Coach Pack has a soft spot for the underdog.  He is not alone.

Coach Bob Metty from Pace High School has been Coach Pack’s right hand man through this process.  Coach Metty brings kids from Pace High School every Saturday and is lined up to run the league this fall.
 “He has as much boiling enthusiasm for tennis as any coach I have known,” said Pack.  “I bounce every idea off Bob before putting it in action.  He is a major force in the league.” 

The eight court tennis facility at Pine Forest High School does not have the finest of courts in the county; however, they probably get used the most.  The courts are open to the public on any given day and are not only being used by the students, but by the local community as well. 

“It is important to have community support,” said Coach Pack.  This was apparent on a gloomy day back in September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan ripped through area, blowing down fences, breaking bleachers, tearing up trees near the courts, slicing windscreens, bending net poles, and crushing the school’s spirit for a time.

Thanks to the Youth Tennis Foundation, who donated money to help the school build a new tennis shed, and USTA Florida, who contributed money to replace the ripped windscreens, the tennis facility got a boost.  In fact, since the new leagues inception last month, the players are improving and getting the court time they need. 

Play takes place every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., and the format has been modified to four teams of four players (plus two alternates) assorted from the different schools.  “Mixing the USTA league with boys and girls has been great,” said Coach Pack.  “The boys and girls compliment each others style of play, and the kids are making new friends from other schools.” 

The league championship will be played in a high school district tournament format on June 9th.   Coach Pack hopes the kids learn that tennis is something they can take into their adult years. “The main goal,” Coach Pack adamantly states, “is to keep racquets in kids’ hands and give them a lifelong passion for tennis.”

If you would like to find out more about the Pensacola league, contact Greg Pack at gwpack@bellsouth.net

Coach Pack and Coach Metty, thank you for extending your lessons outside the classroom and taking them to the tennis courts!






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