USTA Eastern  |  October 26, 2017

Each month, USTA Eastern selects a passionate tennis advocate who has made unique and positive contributions within the community through our sport. These individuals have inspired us and we are thrilled to share their approach and programming with you. 


Tennis Organizer of the Month: October 2017 


After 10 years of pursuing a career in finance, Vania Yui realized that she could not ignore the strong tug pulling her back to her tennis roots.  Yui played tennis in high school and then went on to play Division 1 college tennis for Columbia University. She currently serves as director of junior development at the Tennis Club of Hastings, in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.


When Yui learned of the #kindtennis campaign launch last spring, she knew it could be a wonderful tie into the themes she wanted to address at her club. ADVERTISEMENT Charged with growing the club’s junior tennis programs and tournaments, Yui recalls her initial observations of the first 10 And Under tournaments she directed.  “I remember seeing all these young, doe-eyed faces sitting around, waiting for their match to be called. These eight-, nine- and 10-year-olds were not smiling and frankly looked very nervous. This was not the tone I wanted to set for these tournaments,” said Yui.


With all this uncomfortable down-time, it was clear to Yui that she needed to break the ice and get these kids to interact with one another.  She also wanted to help these young junior hopefuls put tournament competition into the context of their development as players, giving them some added perspective and hopefully taking some pressure off of them. And it all started with a poster.


“I created some posters to help me facilitate a discussion about tournament play, specifically sharing the rules of play and how we expected them to conduct themselves on court.  Then I would ask the children to share their own ideas of what good behavior and sportsmanship looked like.”


After some time and experimentation, Yui soon had the children drawing and pasting pictures onto the board with their visualizations of sportsmanship, and each tournament produced a collective collage of the kids’ ideas. 


Word spread of this unique exercise being done at the club’s tournaments, and before long, Yui needed to enlist high school tournament helpers to accommodate the number of kids participating in this pre-play exercise.


“The whole idea is to get these kids to know each other. They can learn so much more from these tournaments, and that this is not the time to solely focus on winning and losing. Making new friends and finding the fun and enjoyment in playing tennis is just as important, and is ultimately going to keep these kids in the game,” said Yui. 


Yui now offers a host of activities for kids to do while they are waiting for their turn on court, including board games like Scrabble and making bracelets with beads. And as these “competitors” become friends, Yui is now observing real kindness during play, like opponents complementing each other on a great shot. “Sportsmanship is a character trait that translates beyond sport,” said Yui. “It’s about treating others with respect and learning what being a good person looks like. Tennis is an extraordinary venue for character development.”


Click here for more information about #KindTennis.



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