When I first heard about Tennis for America, it instantly sparked my interest; I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after graduating college and when I received an email from the ITA and read about Tennis for America, this role seemed perfect. Tennis has been in my life forever, and I wanted it to continue to play a significant role. In the spring of my senior year, I accepted the position as AmeriCorps VISTA with Tennis for America in College Park, MD.
The tennis for America program has been a great experience and has allowed me to continue working in tennis while giving back. The Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD has a goal of “Tennis for Everybody.” This goal is inspiring because it allows people of all backgrounds and abilities to play tennis.
JTCC offers unique programs for everyone, including Special Olympics, Wheelchair tennis, Tennis Corps Veterans Clinics, Neighborhood Youth Outreach, High-Performance, and Adult Programs. Much of my on-court work has been with kids through the neighborhood youth outreach program. This program brings me back to when I was young and started playing the game, and I love seeing the kids fall in love with the sport the same way I did. Currently, we are traveling to seven different sites in the DC and MD area, and over 600 youth have been reached this year!
Since my time at JTCC, many fun events and milestones have been reached. The Pershing Square court dedication, free tennis festivals, Frances Tiafoe Olympics send-off, wheelchair tennis coaching certifications, ITF tournament, and the Bedford cup. Currently, we are busy with our yearly gala, where Tracy Austin and Ken Solomon will be honored.
It is exciting going into work every day and seeing the variety of players, from Frances Tiafoe to young new players that are just starting out. I am also lucky to have two coworkers that had the VISTA role last year. Gabby Hesse and Ava Todd have helped me a lot in the transition to JTCC and ensuring I am well adjusted, I have worked with them in administrative work and on court programs.
My time as a Tennis for America VISTA Fellow has been fun, special, rewarding, and memorable!