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Flagler After-school Organizer Acierno Named USTA Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month

August 13, 2014 01:21 PM
kathryn_aciernoFlagler Beach's Kathryn Acierno last year left her eight-year job as an art teacher at an elementary school to pursue another passion -- working with small children to introduce them to tennis.

In the Palm Coast area of Northeast Florida she teamed with USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Molly Zimmer to apply for USTA Kids' Tennis Club grants to offer additional after-school activities for youth in Flagler County.

"There is such a need for convenient, fun and affordable on-campus, after-school programs, and I knew that tennis would be a big hit," she told the Palm Coast Observer.


Soon she was applying for additional grants, getting tennis lines painted on playgrounds, and making partnerships with local community tennis organizations for additional equipment and supplies. Old Kings Elementary School soon had Youth Tennis lines painted on the courts, after-school tennis and Kids' Tennis Club three days a week with paid instructors and volunteers.

"We started with two days, but there was such a long waiting list, we decided to add another day," Acierno said.

Kids' Tennis Clubs are designed to give children the opportunity to try tennis in a safe, supportive, extracurricular setting. With tennis sized right for age and ability, it's easier and more fun for kids to experience tennis, camaraderie, cooperation and individual self-growth.

"I always thought it would be wonderful if tennis were as popular as soccer is here in Flagler County," she said. "(Tennis is a sport) that anyone and everyone can enjoy without having to travel too far, pay too much, or wait too long to get good enough to enjoy it."

The program is also kids' sized with the USTA Youth Tennis format, featuring shorter courts, smaller rackets, and slower and lower-bouncing lower-compression balls.

She continues to work for Flagler County Community Education at Old Kings Elementary and Indian Trails Middle schools, and Belle Terre Swim and Raquet Club. She is also an assistant pro at Hammock Dunes, assisting with the Masters Tennis short-court program for older adults, and with the junior program. If that weren't enough, she also captains and organizes the Flagler Aces, a team of junior players who participate in USTA Florida Team Tennis Challenges around the state, and in the Flagler/Volusia Jr. Futures Play Day Series.

"Kathryn has done an amazing job of introducing tennis to children in her community," USTA Florida's Zimmer says. "She was a pioneer in bringing an after-school tennis program to schools in Flagler County."

USTA Florida congratulates Kathryn Acierno as the USTA Florida August 2014 Volunteer of the Month for her dedication to growing junior tennis in-school and after-school in Northeast Florida.

ABOUT KATHRYN

Birthplace:
Wantagh, NY
Family Members: husband Mike; children Lisa, Vicky, Frank, Emily and Klara
Favorite Movie: Life is Beautiful
Favorite Food: Indian
Favorite Travel: Flagler Beach
Favorite Shot: two-handed backhand

My earliest tennis memory was..."practicing on the wall at Wantagh High School. The wall always won!"

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Justine Henin, Michael Chang and Dominika Cibulkova, because they are awesome tennis players in spite of their smaller stature."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."planning tennis practice for the kids."

My best tennis memory is..."as a kid, playing in the Schroon Lake Open in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. It was the year [the movie] 'Rocky' came out. We were so inspired to train hard for the event!"

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I am passionate about bringing tennis to as many Flagler County kids as possible! I love it when I see the kids make the 'tennis face.' That's the face a player makes when they are totally focused on the ball. I love it when a kid experiences his/her first competition and falls in love with the sport."
 
 

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