Approximately 160 youth between ages 6 and 18 from five National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Chapters and two programs serving underserved youth around Chicago participated in a Kids' Day event held on July 10 from 10am-2pm in conjunction with the 2019 Nielsen Men’s Pro Tennis Championship in Winnetka, Ill.
Participants and their coaches from the following NJTL Chapters and programs serving underserved youth attended the fun-filled event: Evanston YES NJTL, Friends of Chicago International Charter School (CICS), Love to Serve Tennis and Education Foundation, Maywood Tennis Association, The Active Children Excel (ACE) Project, Tennis Opportunity Program, and XS Tennis and Education.
“Being able to link a Kids' Day event like this with a professional tournament is priceless," said Lori James, Love to Serve, Inc. ADVERTISEMENT Tennis & Education Foundation. "Some people may have no idea what it means to a kid that has never watched a professional play tennis up close at a beautiful facility like the AC Nielsen Tennis Center.
"It is amazing and really helps programs like mine because it gives a beginner player a polished look at what tennis really should look like because they don't watch tennis on television, and in many cases don't understand it.”
Several on-court activities were scheduled for youth and divided into the following three teams: red ball, orange ball, and yellow ball. On-court red ball activities for the youngest kids included ‘beat the pro,’ bucket game, lobster claw, rolling rallies, and tic tac toe. On-court orange ball activities included helping some youth learn the basics of the game, challenging the advanced players, and working on footwork and agility. On-court yellow ball activities for the oldest kids included fun new games and drills, ‘beat the pro’ against the more advanced players, and king of the court.
A few of the professional players competing in the tournament took time from their busy schedules to conduct an on-court demonstration and answer questions from the kids. Three of the players included former top USTA/Midwest junior players Tom Fawcett, Evan King, and Martin Redlicki from Chicago. Evan and Martin also rallied with two NJTL players and they showcased some great tennis for the rest of the participants, coaches and volunteers. The other pro who participated in the Q & A was Anderson Reed.
This Kids' Day event would not have been successful without over 25 volunteers who gave their time to ensure the kids and their coaches had a great time. Also, the support from the USTA, USTA/Midwest Section, USTA/Midwest Tennis & Education Foundation, Chicago District Tennis Association, Nielsen Men’s Pro Tennis Championship and Morgan Stanley played a key role in the event’s success.