Middle States

Two Best Friends Give Back to the Community

Deaf History Month wrapped up April 15th. With that in mind, we are recognizing two inspirational and hard-working volunteers who teach tennis to deaf students in the Philadelphia area: Keith Cohen and Josh Steckel.


“We are Philadelphia Sunchasers, Not Excuse Makers.”


Cohen and Steckel run the Philadelphia Sunchasers, a year-round, out-of-school youth tennis program in West Philadelphia. The non-profit, volunteer-run organization works closely with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as well.


Steckel is a professional sign language interpreter and works closely with the deaf community, while his best friend, Cohen, loves volunteering and teaching tennis.


“I always loved tennis and the friendships I’ve made throughout my life,” Cohen said. “I wanted to express it more and give back to the community. The program fell together naturally.”


The initial goal was simple: allow children to have a fun and enjoyable experience through tennis. The pair worked together to create the Philadelphia Sunchasers program back in 2015 and currently teach 40-50 students between all their locations. The program continues to grow.


Steckel and Cohen’s friendship goes way back. It all began when Steckel offered an open seat to Cohen on the school bus, 35 years ago. They grew up together, battled through high school tennis together and now are still a strong doubles team while inspiring children to play tennis.

As doubles partners and program partners, they wanted to create an out-of-school school tennis program that would spread their “work hard, have fun and love the game” mentality to others.


These days, their goal is to provide fitness, fun, friendship, good sportsmanship and citizenship to encourage the enthusiasm of the inner-city youth to play the game of tennis. They also work closely with USTA Middle States and the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department to gain access to courts in the area and help in any way they can.


“Our vision is to offer the opportunity to learn tennis throughout the Philadelphia education system and teach tennis to hundreds of children over the next decade and beyond,” said Cohen.


People can learn more about the Philadelphia Sunchasers by emailing us at communications@ms.usta.com.

Skip Advertisement


Related Articles

  • For more than 30 years, Stephanie Howard has made her life about growing tennis. The 2022 Middle States Teaching Professional of the Year is dedicated, hardworking and loves what she does. Howard is the Director of Community Outreach at Princeton Tennis Program (PTP). PTP runs programming at Community Park and at the Eve Kraft Tennis Center in Princeton, N.J. Read More
  • Germantown Cricket Club continued its annual celebration of Juneteenth by opening its doors to the public to celebrate the history of Black tennis. This was the third straight year that the historic, Philadelphia-based club hosted the community to honor the holiday. Read More
  • A 13-year-old from Allentown, Pa., Derek Yao was recently recognized with a Middle States Junior Sportsmanship Award. In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month, we asked Derek about his background and what AAPI Month means to him. Read More