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Fighting Crime with Tennis; Palm Beach County Police Receive USTA Florida Grant

August 10, 2010 01:44 PM
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy and
KAPTA tennis organizer Ira Peskowitz
The Kids And Police Tennis Association (KAPTA) in Palm Beach County has received a United States Tennis Association-Florida (USTA Florida) "Share the Love" grant to begin using the QuickStart Tennis format and equipment for 10-and-under children.

Deputy Sheriff Ira Peskowitz is director and founder of the KAPTA tennis program.

"As a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy, and working in a high-crime area with many kids, I thought it would be beneficial to expose these kids to the game of tennis," Peskowitz said. "I truly believe that giving kids a consequential and prolific task such as playing tennis will draw them away from crime. The program removes them from the same custom and exposes them to a diverse and encouraging environment."

Peskowitz founded KAPTA this past spring with the motto, "Our Courts or Criminal Courts."

"In a short period of time we have 84 kids who participate in this program," said Peskowitz, who is now a certified tennis teaching pro after completing his USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) certification earlier this year. "We meet twice a week for two hours a night. The kids play tennis, participate in learning and get homework assignments."

The snowballing popularity of the program is spawning other sites overseen by Peskowitz across Palm Beach County.

"By the end of August 2010 KAPTA will have two more sites," Peskowitz said. "I truly feel that KAPTA can be modeled here in Florida, and with the assistance of other Police Athletic Leagues locally and nationally, tennis can be exposed to kids from inner cities throughout the nation."

Peskowitz says he looks forward to further introducing children to QuickStart Tennis through KAPTA, and also through a new program he is getting ready to debut, "Jail House Tennis," which will expose juveniles and adults in correctional facilities throughout the nation to tennis.

"Truly it's easier for law enforcement to penetrate these high-crime areas and solicit these kids to play tennis with the assistance of the USTA," Peskowitz said.

QuickStart Tennis is the new USTA-approved format for teaching children age 10-and-under, featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport.

USTA Florida's 'Share the Love' campaign is a $500,000 initiative on top of the organization's regular annual giving to help fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times. Funding priorities for the USTA Florida 'Share the Love' initiative include QuickStart Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis (coordinator training, start-up, etc.), public facility funding (schools, parks, conversion to QuickStart courts, etc.), community tennis awareness (innovative pro-active start-ups, program expansion), school programs and senior tennis programs/projects.

Share the Love grant applications are still being accepted by USTA Florida, and inquiries can be e-mailed to grants@florida.usta.com. 






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