It all began with a google search “Tennis AmeriCorps”. This is how I discovered the Tennis for America program which I was instantly drawn to. When I read more about Tennis for America, I knew it would be a perfect fit. From a young age, tennis has been an important part of my life and has opened up opportunities for me that I never knew existed. I’ve always wanted to give back and share my passion for tennis with future generations. My tennis beginnings came from a program similar to TeamFAME which is even more of a reason why this was the perfect fit!

A month after completing my Master’s degree and education fellowship program, I began my year of service in July of 2022 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s NJTL chapter TeamFAME in Newport, Rhode Island. My experience so far has been phenomenal! This past summer TeamFAME hosted 8 weeks of summer camp as well as outreach programs in the community that I assisted with. Summer commenced with an impactful fundraiser that also served as a celebration to honor the inaugural graduates of the program when they started in 2018. Preparations for the fundraiser were all hands on deck and I learned valuable professional development skills in the process.

Transitioning into the fall, there have been many projects that I have been working on, including but not limited to, updating, digitizing, and maintaining the TeamFAME library in addition to forming a partnership with the local public library and developing a stronger connection to the local middle school. In the community, I have been working with local high schools and universities to recruit volunteers, collaborating with community volunteers to recruit students, and overseeing the newly developed mentorship program between college and high school tennis student-athletes.

Some of the highlights of my time so far have been chaperoning students at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open in Newport, taking the inaugural graduates to the U.S. Open Fan Week in New York, and watching our inaugural graduates compete on their high school tennis teams! At the
Hall of Fame Open, our students got to witness and experience high-level tennis as well as interact with ATP pros and hall of famers which to many is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! At the U.S. Open, our inaugural graduates’ eyes lit up as they were watching top-seeded players warm up and witnessing the size of the famous tennis stadiums up close. In addition, the local high school girl’s tennis team (where our graduates attend), advanced to the division 2 state quarterfinals for the first time in recent history!

This year, TeamFAME has achieved a goal that has been set since 2018 which was to operate at full capacity across all grade levels ranging from 5th-8th grade. We have about 60 students per week that are split up by grade level. Being able to build relationships with students and
support them on the court and in their academics, is my absolute favorite part about my role at TeamFAME. Their enthusiasm for learning new skills, developing a love of the game, and improving academically is amazing to witness and be a part of!

The value of TeamFAME as well as other NJTL chapters is incredible and life-changing. There are so many deserving students across the country that benefit from these programs and lead to successful futures. I feel so fortunate to be part of this program and have the ability to make a positive impact on these students’ lives.

If you would have told me when I was 10 years old that I would be part of a high school state championship team, play at the collegiate level, and serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the NJTL chapter at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I would have never imagined it to be true. TeamFAME holds a special place in my heart and I’m excited to see what the future holds throughout the remainder of my year of service and beyond!

If you would like more information about the Tennis For America Year of Service program please visit www.tennisforamerica.com or contact ITA, COO, David Mullins (dmullins@itatennis.com)

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