ON THE COURTS
February 28, 2018
"My favorite tennis moment was when I met Andrew," said 9-year-old Sava. It was a warm February afternoon at the Oahu Club, where a group of 20 juniors and their parents gathered to celebrate the end of the USTA Hawaii Pacific's inaugural Junior Mentorship Program. Three months prior in November, the juniors had been paired up - a high school player as the mentor and an elementary school player as the mentee - to meet weekly on the courts. Over the course of the program, many of the pairs grew from strangers to something resembling siblings. "It's more than tennis. It's about having an older brother or sister to look up to," a parent commented. Others in the room nodded in agreement.
Both players and parents also noticed an improvement in skills. ADVERTISEMENT After meeting with her mentor Chloe, 11-year-old Erin often left feeling proud and accomplished. "When my dad came to pick me up from the tennis courts every week, he said that I am playing better and better," Erin said with a wide grin. For the high school players, it was an opportunity to give back to the sport they love and grow as a leader in the community.
The mentorship program was created by USTA Hawaii Pacific's Director of Junior Tennis, Mimi Kennell, with the goal of developing both tennis skills and sportsmanship. After observing the camaraderie between the current high school junior and senior players, Kennell believed that they could serve as positive role models for the younger generation. She explained, "It is important to build a culture of teamwork within junior tennis, so that all players, regardless of age or skill, can feel proud to be part of one team: Team Hawaii."