A Special Connection
“Each honor student has to choose a capstone project to do.”
Tammy Truong sat back, explaining how she became so involved with tennis — specifically adaptive. “We’re told: ‘choose something you're passionate about and serve a community.’ I chose my two passions.”
Combining teaching tennis and working with individuals with disabilities, Truong created an Adaptive Tennis Day event for her capstone project at West Chester University. Truong said she believes her special connection to those with disabilities comes from the bond she shares with her best friend, who has Down syndrome. Their friendship began in first grade and continues to shape Truong. It impacted her major (nursing), inspired her to volunteer with adults with disabilities at Compass Point, and led her to creating her Adaptive Tennis Day event.
When preparing for her capstone project, Truong — an avid tennis player as a junior and in college — reached out to her professor, who suggested looking into USTA Adaptive Tennis programs. Her exploration opened her eyes to all the programming the USTA promotes throughout the country. She reached out to program directors from Love Serving Autism and ACEing Autism and created her lesson plan for the event. The three-hour Adaptive Tennis Day event includes an hour of tennis, a lunch sponsored by the USTA, and a sensory activity.
Truong grew up playing tennis with her dad. He took her and her sister to the courts when she was five, and while she enjoyed that time with her family, she became more serious about tennis a bit later. In middle school, Truong devoted more time and effort to the sport, and tennis quickly consumed her days and nights. With early wake-up calls for Gold Cup practice and additional training after school, Truong went on to play for her high school team.
As her skills improved, she also worked hard to focus on the mental side of the game. She learned how to control her anger on court and handle unfair play by opponents.
“Tennis helped me to stay calm and collected and true to myself,” Truong said. “It helped me learn to advocate for myself when people were cheating.”
The obstacles Truong faced on the tennis court began to open her mind to new ways of handling difficult situations. She carries that skill to nursing and life at the hospital.
“I feel like I’m passionate about tennis because it helped me become a better individual overall,” Truong said.
“I’m going into nursing, and it’s tough mentally. You have to leave everything in the hospital and not bring it home with you. In tennis, a lot happens on the court. You want to come off and rant about it, but it’s best to just leave it there.”
Truong’s playing career also sparked a desire to coach. In the early stages of the pandemic, Truong coached every week and quickly realized just how much she loved it. Her students shared this feeling. Many players expressed interest in taking lessons with Truong, allowing her to see her impact. She went on to coach for Gold Cup and hopes to one day lead her own Junior Team Tennis team.
“I can see myself still teaching tennis in the future,” she said. “I feel like I don't want to let that go if I have the talent and the skills to continue to do it.”