Lob & Learn Gives Area Youth Tennis Opportunities
The Kansas City area has many advocates for the game of tennis that do great work in the community, including Marc Stulz, Founder of Lob & Learn Tennis, Chairman of the Elite Squad Tennis Club and winner of the USTA Heart of America’s Community Service Excellence award.
Stulz grew up with a racket in his hand, and after college, decided that he wanted to remain a part of the game. He started his own tennis program in 1998 as a juniors coach, which eventually became an opportunity to work with the Elite Squad.
“Growing up in an area where there was quite a bit of diversity, I saw that it would be a good thing for tennis, because especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the scholarships didn’t gravitate towards that demographic,” he said.
The idea for Lob & Learn was something that budded in his brain long ago, but it was not until Elite was up and running that he was able to put full time and effort into it.
One of the goals of the program is “community-based youth development in our urban core.” In order to accomplish that goal, Lob & Learn offers its program at no cost to the families involved.
“My goal, tennis-wise, is to provide for kids from all backgrounds that want to get into the game,” Stulz said. “We wanted to try to fill the gap, and we welcome kids with open arms.”
The Lob & Learn motto is “serving youth with tennis,” something Stulz is fully committed to. He believes that when young people learn the skills of tennis on the court, they can transfer to life off of the court.
“Tennis is a metaphor,” he said. “If you’ve played, you put yourself out there and you have to do it on your own. We transition a lot of those life skills: decision making, working with peers and learning from mentors.”
In teaching tennis, Stulz tries to establish the “Three C’s” with players: confidence, character and connections. When equipped with these tools, he believes players will be better prepared to take on the world at large.
“Those are things that we try to instill in our players, using tennis as the vehicle,” he said. “They help in other facets of life.”
While there is no monetary cost involved for the families, Stulz is “paid” in other ways. The satisfaction for Stulz comes when he is able to see a young person pick up a racket for the first time, and watch their development from that point.
“When a child picks up a racket, you see the delight in their eyes,” he said. “Our developmental process is a good feeling and it’s a good thing for them, because they keep wanting to come back.”
While Lob & Learn has been delayed for the time being, Stulz is fully ready to get back out on the court.
“All oars will be in the water as soon as we have the opportunity,” he said. “We’re fired up.”