By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
CARY, N.C. –
A point of traffic at a bustling Cary Tennis Park on Saturday during the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship was the USTA Military Outreach
tent, with the aim of those visiting being to support active U.S. troops and military veterans.
"The kids can send them care packages and then the organization will provide the unit with portable tennis equipment," said Lynne Schachte of the USTA Military Outreach program. "This is a huge initiative the USTA has taken on. It’s a great way to encourage the game of tennis while helping the service members."
The USTA Military Outreach program was on site in an effort to educate students about the initiative and encourage them to participate in the Adopt-A-Unit program. Tennis On Campus programs regularly support the troops by "adopting" a military unit of 25-100 deployed service members. Players lined up to offer their support by writing letters to the troops - after just a few hours on site, there were dozens upon dozens of letters, with several schools interested in adopting a unit.
James Madison’s club tennis team is strongly considering adopting a unit. Junior Kelly Little remarked that the club is required to do community service through the university.
"In the past, we have done the majority of our community service on campus," said Little. "We typically help other sports clubs host their events, or other help run campus events. We really won’t to help off campus; helping the troops has a bigger effect and means more."
Alana Ferens, also a junior, added that it is a cause that all of her teammates can get behind because it hits close to home.
"I have a friend in Afghanistan right now," Ferens said. "I know how much they appreciate it when they get care packages and support from people in the States."
Many veterans are also returning to college campuses, and club tennis can be a great tool to acclimate them during their return to college life. The USTA Military Outreach program also offers Wounded Warrior tennis training and 10 and Under Tennis
memberships to military families.