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Growing 10 and Under Tennis in Ocala: July 2013 Florida Vol. of the Month

July 25, 2013 09:10 PM
Evans-Molock_Ebony-picIf you want something done right, do it yourself.

At the same time, if you've seen something done right with 10 and Under Tennis, why not take it back to your club and do the same?

That's what happened this past spring when Ebony Evans-Molock of Ocala, Fla., began an eight-week 10 and Under Tennis fun league at her "home" Ft. King Tennis Center after seeing her daughter thrive in a similar program at another club.

"Our 10 and Under Tennis program started with 13 players on a Saturday morning in May, and to our surprise, by week two we had 21 players signed up," she said. "The response from the players and parents was so overwhelming we decided to continue the league over the summer."

Despite the Florida heat, the participation numbers have risen even further in the program currently being run this summer. Evans-Molock says she started the 10 and Under Tennis program because its graduated learning for small children and emphasis on fun made sense. And because she had been mentored by observing a 10 and Under Tennis "master."

"I can see the immediate growth in kids as young as 4 years old," she said. "My daughter played in a 10 and Under Tennis League in Gainesville and I was inspired by Bobbie Mehan to do more for 10 and Under Tennis in Ocala and Marion County."

Mehan began a 10 and Under Tennis (initially known as QuickStart Tennis) program four years ago at the Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville, one of the first Florida facilities to feature the program after its initial launch.

The 10 and Under Tennis program has also "increased traffic" at the Ft. King Tennis Center, Evans-Molock says, "because when the parents see first hand how much fun the kids are having, they eventually take lessons or clinics themselves. Parents have told me tennis is a sport they can play with their child easily, especially using the 10 and Under Tennis equipment." 

10 and Under Tennis allows smaller children to emulate adult play on smaller courts, with racquet sizes that fit their hands. Lower-bouncing low-compression balls, smaller nets for 8 & Under play, and a simple scoring system are all adjusted to ease kids into the sport.

Of course another driver for Evans-Molock is her daughter Madison.

"Madison enjoys 10 and Under Tennis because it allows her to learn, play, compete and have fun in an age- and equipment-appropriate environment," she says of the 6 year old, who won her first 10 and Under Tennis tournament in the 8 & Under Division [on 36-foot youth courts] at the age of four. "Madison began basic skills for coordination at the age of 1, and began taking lessons and competed in her first 8 & Under tournament at the age of 3."

A player herself, Evans-Molock competes on a local women's 4.0 NTRP team, and on USTA 18 & Over Division teams at the Ft. King Tennis Center, which over the past five years has won the USTA Florida Sectionals and advanced to the USTA League National Championships 22 times to represent Florida.

Evans-Molock says the public center, operated by the City of Ocala, has been instrumental to 10 and Under Tennis program growth in the area, as have grants for 10 and Under Tennis equipment from USTA Florida.

"I am thankful to [Director of Tennis] Jason Weiss for allowing me the platform to continue to grow youth programs using 10 and Under Tennis," she says. "I am thankful for 10 and Under Tennis, and USTA Florida for the continued investments to further the program."

USTA Florida congratulates and thanks Ebony Evans-Molock of Ocala as the July 2013 Volunteer of the Month for her dedication to growing youth tennis and providing 10 and Under Tennis programming options for area children and parents.

ABOUT EBONY

Birthplace:
Ocala, Fla.
Family Members: Dwayne Molock (husband) and Madison Molock (daughter)
Favorite Movie: Annie
Favorite Food: Italian
Favorite Travel: Philadelphia and California
Favorite Shot: Backhand/swinging volley

My earliest tennis memory was..."in 2007 when I saw an ad in Ocala Style Magazine explaining the health benefits and fun opportunities that tennis had to offer. I attended an open clinic and I have been hooked ever since."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."my 6-year-old daughter Madison, my husband Dwayne, and Serena Williams!"

When I am not playing tennis I am..."homeschooling Madison and chauffeuring her to tennis practice five days a week and play dates with her friends."

My best-ever tennis memory is..."when my USTA 2.5 women's team made it to sectionals in Daytona Beach and I was asked to play singles for the first time ever, and ended up winning the match in the second set after being down 1-5!"

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I love to see children learn and succeed at 10 and Under Tennis and go on to feel confident enough to play tournaments. I also enjoy working side by side with the parents by equipping them with fun activities they can play with their kids at home without the need for lots of equipment."


Do you know an individual or group in Florida worthy of a USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month submission? Recommend them.

 

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