Tennis has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Though I played every sport in the book, tennis was the only one I held onto for my entire childhood and into my now adulthood. The sport has given me so much through my time playing, from lifelong friendships to a successful collegiate career. It was seemingly kismet, destiny, that the first stop in my post-graduation career would be working in tennis.
Two weeks after I walked across the stage at Endicott College, I started my year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working with Tennis for America and the ITA. I am completing my year at the International Tennis Hall of Fame for their NJTL Chapter TeamFAME.
In my five months and change so far with TeamFAME, I have been a wearer of many hats, something that has allowed me to expand my experiences and learn new things. The administrative work I do for the program includes digitalizing paperwork, maintaining and updating records, website and graphics design, communicating with community partners, research for grants, and the list goes on.
During the school year, my day-to-day is comprised of administrative work in the morning, set-up and preparation in the early afternoon, and academic/tennis coaching in the late afternoon when the students arrive.
For me, I thoroughly enjoy having different tasks throughout the day because it keeps me ready and on my toes. I have also led a project that saw our kids featured during a commercial break of the US Open, coached over 250 Newport kids through summer outreach tennis clinics, chaperoned TeamFAME students at different events and fieldtrips, and currently assist in their everyday academic and tennis programming, serving as a coach and leader.
It is difficult to fully summarize my time so far with TeamFAME because I have been given the opportunity to work on so many different projects and explore different areas of marketing and promotion, communication and partnerships, fundraising, and so forth.
My favorite part of the summer was the opportunity to attend, work, and experience the Newport Open, an ATP tournament that the International Tennis Hall of Fame hosts. I was involved in the daily happenings of the tournament planning and setup, and I was really able to see the ins and outs of how a large-scale event is operated.
With that, we also had our TeamFAME students present for the tournament, and I had the chance to show them around the grounds, watch different matches, and explain the rules and nuances of the matches. The best thing about this opportunity was sitting in the stands with our students and hearing them talk about how they were going to be playing on that court one day when they are older.
Even with all the different professional experience I have gained so far, my favorite part of being a VISTA has been the time spent working with the students of TeamFAME. Starting my year of service in the summer has really helped me build a relationship with the students that has continued to grow in the after-school program.
While in my first few weeks I struggled to learn the names of our 30 7th-8th graders and 30 5th-6th graders, I now know and understand the different personalities of every student at TeamFAME.
The importance of TeamFAME and other NJTL chapters really shines through when you are able to know the students involved and understand who they are and their goals in life and I have been lucky enough to do so. Improving tennis and academic skills and helping the students experience things they otherwise would not have the opportunity to do are just the surface of how TeamFAME positively impacts its students.
I am very grateful that my first months with TeamFAME as an Americorps VISTA have been so positive and I am excited for the remainder of my year of service. Working with Tennis for America and the ITA has really allowed me to share my passion for tennis with others and help showcase how being a tennis player can positively impact your life.
This is an experience I would recommend to any student athlete, especially those who want to change the lives of others.
Note: Tennis for America applications for Year 3 (2022-23) are currently open. You can learn more about the application process here.