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10 and Under Tennis Blossoms Out of Tallahassee Housing Project

September 16, 2013 12:54 PM
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Lois Carrington (right) and players
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What started out as a tennis lesson for an adult friend has turned into a local volunteer effort introducing inquisitive, under-served children in Tallahassee to the sport of a lifetime.
 
"The children who lived in the projects were hanging around outside the fence of the court, watching me give my friend a lesson," said Lois Carrington, who was playing at the Tallahassee Housing Authority's courts in the Macon County Housing Project. "I was amazed that some of the children did not even know what to call the tennis racquet, since they had never seen one."
 
A tennis volunteer at Tallahassee's Walker Ford Community Center, Carrington always carried youth-sized racquets and lower-compression balls in her car, so she invited the children to join them inside the fence to play. From there it has developed to once and sometimes twice-a-week lessons for the 12 or more children.
 
"Together they play tennis games, and I provide pointers on tennis etiquette as the games go along," Carrington says. "The children are divided into three groups -- the Gators, the Seminoles, and the Rattlers -- for some fun competition playing out points against each other."
 
This past August Carrington received a grant from USTA Florida for 10 and Under Tennis racquets, low-compression balls and short-court nets to further the program.
 
"We should all be proud of how tennis is beginning to make a difference in the lives of these kids, with the help of USTA Florida and the volunteers on court," says USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Panhandle area George English. "We seem to be picking up more volunteers in the Macon community as time goes on because it is such a worthy endeavor."
 
The weekly play has even attracted tennis interest in the housing community.
 
"The sounds of happy children playing on the courts has attracted the adult residents," Carrington says. "I've seen them watching the children as they play, since they are obviously having so much fun."
 
Carrington has also received volunteer assistance from friends, her husband, and even her 5-year-old granddaughter to make tennis more accessible to the children in the housing development.
 
"We applaud the efforts to grow and develop tennis in the Macon community," says USTA Florida Director of Community Tennis Linda Curtis. "It is with USTA membership dollars that we are able to offer program grants to communities like these."
 
For more information on USTA Florida community grants, go to www.florida.usta.com/grants.
 
 
 
 

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