More than 100 niños in kindergarten through fifth grade are having a bueno time learning to play tenis with their amigos during a new after-school program in Hempstead, N.Y.
With the mission of making tennis accessible for all, Circulo de la Hispanidad, an organization that provides community programs and comprehensive human resources to vulnerable families and individuals on Long Island, along with the USTA Long Island Region and Fabiana Rezak, a PTR and USPTA Professional, is providing tennis lessons to children at the Evergreen Charter School.
Circulo, a non-profit serving mostly Hispanic families, started bringing tennis lessons to the school during the fall. Previously, the organization offered tennis as part of its summer camp in 2015. The USTA Long Island Region has provided balls, racquets and nets which the children are using to develop basic tennis, athletic and rallying skills. The participants soon will be offered introductory match play in a friendly, non-pressure environment through Junior Team Tennis. For the children, this program marks the first time they have picked up a tennis racket or hit a tennis ball over the net.
The children love learning this new sport. According to five-year old Angie, "I love to play tennis because I can teach my mom to play with me!"
“We are also working to involve the children’s parents and some volunteers who can help supervise practices, match play, teams and scoring,” said Rezak. “Everybody’s involvement will have an impact in the community, contributing to the greater good and the growth of the game. It’s rewarding to hear children express, ‘I got a new game,’ or ‘I want to play more!’ at the end of their weekly session.”
Circulo would like each child to own his or her own racquet, balls and skill-building guide so they can play on their own time with family and friends at home. In order to help fulfill that wish, Circulo sent a letter to all parents suggesting the gift of tennis for Christmas. Circulo prepackaged a start-up kit that parents could buy at a low price.
The gift set included a racket, sized appropriately for each child and My Playbook, a child’s guide with skill-building activities and goals. The set also includes red and orange foam balls.
The program is becoming a real hit with the kids.
Seven-year-old Rafael said, “I like to do the skills in My Playbook at home.”
Ten-year-old Mikayla added, “I like to learn the backhand because I can hit on both sides.”
“Our goal is to ensure that each child accomplishes the goal for each skill shown in the playbook by the end of March, at least by using the foam ball,” said Rezak. “After accomplishing all the skills with one type of ball, they can challenge themselves to try the same skills with the red, orange and/or green ball. By successfully accomplishing each skill with any color ball they can feel a sense of accomplishment and feel more comfortable with racket-handling skills such as dropping the ball and hitting it and hitting back with control.”
Those skills will prepare the children to start playing introductory tennis matches in a team tennis format with other Circulo participants on the courts at outdoor parks this spring, and later on, against other organizations.
While the current program is offered after school, beginning shortly, all 300 students at the Evergreen School will get a taste of tennis and sporadic exposure to the game during gym class.
“We want to offer the children and their families many playing opportunities to improve and enjoy the game,” Rezak said. “Since parental involvement is also important to children staying involved in the game, we are planning to organize Parent-Child Play Days this spring and later, Junior Team Tennis. These Play Days will give parents the chance to learn to play, and have tennis as an activity for wellness and bonding with their family that they can do together for life.”
To help with the parent and child programming, Rezak and Circulo are asking for volunteers who can give an hour or two, or an afternoon, to help teach basic tennis skills. In particular, the group is asking high school or college tennis players, tennis pros and people who enjoy playing tennis to help. To volunteer, e-mail FabRezak@gmail.com.
Carefree hosts Annual Susan Alvy Memorial
Carefree Racquet Club recently wrapped up its Annual Susan Alvy Memorial Men’s Doubles Tournament in memory of the former Rockville Racquet manager.
“Susan was the was the manager of Rockville Racquet, a Long Island board member for the USTA League, winner of the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award, along with being someone whose friendship I valued,” said Carefree Racquet Club Manager Kathy Miller. “Susan and I managed competing clubs. She was at Rockville and me just a few miles away at Carefree. From the start, we knew we didn’t need to compete with each other. We knew we shared many customers and instead of competing, we worked together. Susan was always level-headed, smart, caring.”
Alvy would run a holiday tournament every winter break, and to keep that tradition going, Carefree has hosted that winter break tournament in honor of Alvy ever since.
Susan Alvy's daughter, Debbie Semaya (center), congratulates runners up Keith Lopez (far left) & Eric Chaffer (far right) along with Susan Alvy Memorial "A" Division winners Jeff Snow (second from left) & Brad Shafran (second from right)
Debbie Semaya (center) with Susan Alvy Memorial "B" Division winners Jake Kolenberg (second from right) & Craig Handleman (second from left) and finalists DJ Jones (far left) & Mike Fairman (far right)