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Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Children Exposed to Tennis in Palm Beach/Treasure Coast

June 23, 2010 01:52 PM
Guadelupe Mission kids are led in a session of stretching
Guadelupe Mission kids play QuickStart Tennis
Guadelupe Mission children and instructors
KAPTA participants share a laugh
KAPTA participants
Two events earlier this month in the Palm Beaches area brought tennis to children who have not had the opportunities or access to the sport. At the Guadelupe Mission in Fellsmere, Fla., more than 40 children were introduced to tennis using the QuickStart Tennis format. Participating children were aged 5-16, and played tennis games, QuickStart matches, received prize giveaways, created sidewalk chalk tennis drawings and more.

The children were shown proper warm-up exercises which included some hula-hooping.

"I love working with the disadvantaged populations, they are so warm and enthusiastic and just love anything they are offered," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Janet Sprague, who organized the event with USTA Florida volunteer Mercedes Sideregts and her staff of the mission center. "The children also participated in soccer, arts and crafts and bible study to wrap up the day."

Also beginning in the Palm Beach area in June was the KAPTA (Kids and Police Tennis Association) program at the Tennis Club of Palm Beach, and Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Joining forces for the program, which offers both on-court tennis and off-court tutoring for children, are the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the City of West Palm Beach Police Athletic League, with help from partnering agencies First Serve of the Palm Beaches, and the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton.

The program is free to the youth participants, and runs Wednesday and Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

More than 50 children and their parents attended the KAPTA kick-off day at the Tennis Club of Palm Beach, and an additional 25 children have signed-up since for a total of more than 75 participants. Top American junior players from throughout the country training at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton were on hand for a panel Q&A session. USTA national coach Martin Blackman from Boca Raton, along with other staff including USTA Florida's Janet Sprague and Paul Van der Grift from the Tennis Patrons/First Serve of the Palm Beaches were all on hand to help with the kick-off.

Parents completed an application, and all children will receive a new pair of court shoes and tennis racquets. Most all of the children involved attend Title I schools in low-income or socio-economically challenged areas.

USTA Florida has provided Quickstart Tennis training to all volunteers involved in the program, and will hold another Quickstart training for an additional 25 volunteers signed-up to assist with the program by the end of June, overseen by national USTA Trainer Susan Allshouse.

"This program is all about teaching kids life-long lessons on the court for life-long experiences off the court," Sprague said. "The KAPTA motto is 'Our courts or the criminal courts, you choose!'"

For more information on Palm Beaches-area events go to www.ustapalmbeach.com or e-mail sprague@florida.usta.com.






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