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Tennis Pro Players Serve as Role Models

June 4, 2007 03:17 PM

The goal of most tennis tournaments is to be victorious; to finish in first place with trophy in hand, ranking points in mind and money on the way.  But what if victory meant something else?  What if victory meant giving others what they wish for?  On Monday, May 6, on the second day of the MIMA Foundation Pro Tennis Classic at Kiwi Tennis Club in Indian Harbor Beach, six tennis professionals won a personal victory that had nothing to do with money, ranking points or a trophy.  Instead, it had to do with kids, fun and motivation. 

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Five local schools in Brevard County got their wishes granted when current WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tour players Mami Inoue, Teadora Mircic, Kelly Kambourelis, Jessica Kirkland, Christina Fusano and Marlene Ryan visited to motivate students to get up, be active and play tennis.  Tropical Elementary School (Merritt Island), Indialantic Elementary School (Indialantic), Ocean Breeze Elementary School (Indian Harbor Beach), Eau Gallie High School (Melbourne) and the DOCK (Dorcas Outreach Center for Kids) had a total of 1500 kids participate in tennis drills with the tennis pros, who visited each school separately around their scheduled matches on Monday. 

Students were organized into different groups (50 ) at tennis stations set up on tennis courts or gymnasium floors so every single student had an opportunity to interact with the players.

Tracy Almeda-Singian, tournament director and past USTA Pro Circuit tennis player, organized the community outreach project for the players to participate in during the tournament.  “Community outreach is something I did when I was on tour.  Speaking, interacting, and playing tennis with kids in the local schools is what I remember most,” she said, referring to the first time she aided in a community project during the Dow Corning $75,000 women's challenger in Midland, Michigan.  “It struck a chord, and I definitely wanted players to experience it this year.”

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The community project of visiting local schools in Brevard County started last year when professional tennis players visited three schools, organized by none other than Tracy’s little sister and former USTA East Region 4 Community Coordinator, Trina Singian.   “We were very fortunate to have Jessica Kirkland, Lilia Osterloh, Veronica Li and Jennifer Magley, all WTA pros, come out last year and share their stories and experiences with the children,” Trina said.  “They served as role models, and the kids really enjoyed playing with them!”

This year, due to the incredible response from 2006, Tracy decided to add two more schools into the mix.   Even though that added longer hours, from 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Monday to be exact, the outcome was worth it. 

Feeling that outreach is of utmost importance, tennis professionals from local clubs in Brevard County and members of the Kiwi Tennis Club jumped on board to assist during the school visits.  Jeff Shinn, Debra Murray, Paul Davis, Manny Lopez, Shelley Pessa, Pat Dempsey and Michael Phelipa were among those to help Tracy.  Together, everyone made the tennis activities memorable and exciting for the children.  Prizes such as school tennis bags, signed tournament posters, wilson t-shirts, and USTA hats were also handed out to students at the school, and Tracy personally donated four of her own tennis racquest to the DOCK center.

For the second year in a row, the MIMA Foundation USTA Pro Tennis Classic at Kiwi Tennis Club has organized this great service to school age children in Brevard County.  “We hope to keep this going for as long as we can,” Tracy explained.  “The most important thing is to make an impact on your local community and the more you do that, the more it makes the tournament worthwhile.”

For more information, contact Tracy Almeda-Singian at tracyasing@aol.com or (321) 773-2116.

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