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Mid-Atlantic

Voices from the Mid-Atlantic: Claris Brock

February 11, 2021

During Black History Month, we honor players that have helped grow the sport of tennis not only for the African American community but for communities throughout our region, and truly worldwide. As important as it is to pay tribute to the past, it is equally as important to celebrate our present and future players. This year, USTA Mid-Atlantic is showcasing Black players from the Section who display their everyday passion and commitment to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.

 

For our first spotlight, USTA Mid-Atlantic chatted with local USTA League player Claris Brock of Clinton, Md. Claris is a wife and mother of two sons. Originally from the Cayman Islands, Claris moved to Maryland in 1989 and has worked for Montgomery County Public Schools for 31 years. 

When she is not serving the children in the public school system, you can find her on the tennis courts with her tennis family. We caught up with Claris, and she provided her thoughts on tennis in the Mid-Atlantic.

 

Tell me about your tennis playing experience?

I started playing tennis as a teenager in the Cayman Islands. I am currently a 3.5 player and play three to five times a week at various locations in Prince George's and Charles County. Additionally, I play on teams and in tournaments in Prince George's County, Charles County, Washington D.C., Montgomery County and Virginia.

 

What drew you to tennis?

The great exercise, the ability to meet wonderful people, and the competitiveness and fun that tennis brings.

 

Which tennis players inspire you? Why?

I am inspired by the Williams sisters, Frances Tiafoe, Naomi Osaka, and Coco Gauff. Their passion for the game, determination, competitive spirit, and grit inspires me.

 

What does it mean to be a leader in the tennis community?

To be a leader in the tennis community means to participate in leagues and tournaments, grow and promote the sport, increase awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in tennis, and provide educational and training opportunities to our youth.

 

What’s your perspective on diversity in tennis? Nationally? In the Mid-Atlantic?

My perspective is that tennis remains a sport that needs continual growth to attract, engage and include participants from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. There is an underrepresentation of various minority ethnics groups within the sport and I would like to see an increase in opportunities for all people to play tennis.

 

And in your opinion, what steps can be taken to grow tennis in the Mid-Atlantic?

The steps that can be taken to grow tennis in the Black Community are:

  • Develop tennis programs within elementary and middle schools 

  • Publicizing tennis programming such as leagues, tournaments, tennis socials events, classes, and clinics

  • Train more coordinators to facilitate and manage tennis leagues 

  • Expand league play and events to various parts of Prince George’s county and advertise in those areas rather than concentrate in select areas of the county

  • Provide tennis programs and leagues for minority youth

  • Partner with local business to sponsor youth tennis programs and events 

  • Build a public facility that accommodates a larger number of players for leagues, tournaments, classes, and youth programs

 

If you had one wish for the future generations of tennis players what would it be?

If I had one wish for the future generations of tennis players it would be to develop programs in an effort to increase awareness, attract participants to include access, equity, diversity, and training opportunities for our youth

 

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month we will be focusing on connecting the past, present and  future generations of tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic. We will be spotlighting juniors in the Section who use their leadership and passion for tennis to influence positive change. You can find those spotlights on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and we encourage you to share and join the conversation. 

 

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