By Ava Todd
My name is Ava Todd, and I am one of the Tennis for America fellows at the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, MD.
November has been a fun, exciting and challenging month at JTCC. The organization is working hard to offer tennis in ways that keep its players, families and staff members safe. I have been involved with several projects both in the office and on court that promote JTCC’s mission of “Tennis for Everybody” and help the tennis center grow amid difficult circumstances.
A big project of mine is updating the “Walk of Fame,” which is the hallway at JTCC that leads to the indoor courts. The hallway is lined with photos that show JTCC’s notable alumni, nationally ranked players, sportsmanship award recipients, founders, and much more. I have been updating these photos to ensure they are current and high quality. For example, I am updating all staff with new headshots and biographies that represent their current roles and responsibilities.
This month, I also began helping with the launch of JTCC’s new website. This project involves rewriting pages from the old website to make the information clearer and more current, as well as updating photos and graphics to make the website more aesthetically pleasing. I am also writing the Thanksgiving edition of the JTCC newsletter. The goal is to send a monthly newsletter that includes upcoming events, player results, club happenings, etc. I am looking forward to sending the Thanksgiving edition which will show JTCC’s gratitude for its players, families, staff and supporters. My work on the website and the newsletter has taught me a lot about marketing, web design and mass communication.
Another project I have assisted with is the start of recycling at JTCC. In an effort to go green, JTCC signed a recycling contract. My role in this project has been to create and distribute marketing materials to let the JTCC community know that we now recycle.
On the tennis court, we recently began Session II for the ROGY (Red, Orange, Green, Yellow) Developmental Program. I teach 8 hours per week on court with players from local communities, ages 3 to 14. My favorite class has been “Tennis Whizz” for 3-4 year olds, which I teach on Saturdays. In these classes, we go on fun ‘adventures’ that teach hand-eye coordination and tennis fundamentals. Teaching on court has given me valuable experience in working with youth and developing them both as tennis players and as people.
The biggest project that I have worked on is virtual tennis programming. With JTCC’s community outreach efforts on pause due to COVID-19, Gabby Hesse (JTCC’s other Tennis for America fellow) and I pitched the idea to offer community outreach in a virtual format, so that we could still introduce tennis to our local youth. We created a free, 10-week curriculum and had over 70 kids aged 5-11 register for the program. All participants received a free racket and can of tennis balls for use in the classes, as well. Gabby and I taught 3 classes a week via Zoom, with the final classes finishing up on November 19th. We are now in the process of offering some of the most motivated and engaged participants the chance to continue their tennis training in-person at JTCC. Additionally, we plan to offer another round of virtual classes that will start in January. We have already built strong relationships with the participants, and I am excited to continue these relationships into the New Year.
I feel honored and grateful to be a part of JTCC and a part of Tennis for America. The work I am doing is teaching me valuable skills and lessons that I will carry with me, whatever my next steps may be. I look forward to seeing what the rest of my year of service will bring!
The ITA’s national service program Tennis For America invests in college tennis graduates in order to fight inequality through tennis. Learn how you can support Tennis For America.