Thursday, August 15, 2013

USTA Tennis program nets Spring Branch ISD youth interest

More than 50 students from three elementary schools and one middle school picked up modified tennis rackets and learned how to serve and volley tennis balls, keep scores, and have fun on the tennis court under a United States Tennis Association (USTA) program in Spring Branch ISD.

The first-ever, pilot youth tennis programs at Pine Shadows, Shadow Oaks and Westwood elementary schools and Spring Woods Middle School concluded on July 2 with a special Play Day on the courts at Lone Star College and Spring Woods High School.

Students also toured the community college campus. Several students also won scholarships to a local private tennis camp where they can continue to improve their talent and games.

The USTA Tennis program, part of SBISD’s Advanced Movers Initiative, is funded by SBISD Athletics and grants. Through the program, students learned the fundamentals of tennis from a sport professional. An SBISD specialist worked alongside the tennis professional.

Tennis equipment and training was modified based on USTA rules for the age of participants. The Advanced Movers Initiative in SBISD is designed to provide all student opportunities and expose students to brand new programs, such as youth tennis. “Some of these students had never touched a tennis racket in their lives.

In only eight to 16 days, many were able to serve, perform forehand and backhand swings correctly, as well as volley tennis balls back and forth,” said Samuel Karns, who is a health fitness specialist and intramural coordinator at Westwood Elementary School. “The program left many of us in awe of how much progress these students had made.

We heard them speak with high school coaches about planning to play soon at that level, which was priceless.” Karns said that the Health Fitness Department is currently working in collaboration with SBISD Athletics to expand USTA’s tennis program in the future to all middle schools, and also offer it at the elementary level in after school programs.

A federal ACE grant made the USTA Tennis summertime program affordable and available, but qualified adult instructors made it possible for all students to play properly. “One student at the elementary level did not have the tennis shoes needed to play tennis so some of the teachers contributed to get shoes so that this student would be successful,” Karns said.

At Spring Woods High School, tennis Coach Misty Germer helped out with the USTA Tennis program. At Lone Star College, Cindy Benzon and Tim Sebestra pitched in to make the Play Day come to life for district students. Student scholarships were awarded to a tennis camp conducted by Brian Montez of K-Factor Sports.

Watch ANIMOTO from this event.


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