Missouri Valley / St. Louis

All About ACE Academy

Jamie Hansen | June 24, 2020

ACE Academy in St. Louis is the brainchild of a young person who saw tennis as an opportunity to bring about change – in more than just the sport.


Aryan Motwani will enter his senior year of high school this fall, but even as far back as 2015, he realized he could be an agent of change.  That is when he started ACE Academy.


“I started ACE Academy because I recognized the inequality of opportunity that was prevalent in the city of St. Louis and wanted to do something to help fix it,” he said. “I felt that the best way I can be a catalyst for change would be to use tennis as a medium to bring people together regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic status.


“The African American population in St. Louis hasn’t always been treated as the equals they deserve to be. They have been negatively impacted in all facets of life – whether it be the jobs they can get, the places they can live, or the opportunities they can provide for their children – strictly based on the color of their skin.  ACE Academy is here to breathe life into these areas by helping the underserved youth who are unable to gain access to opportunities that most people take for granted.”


ACE provides camps during the summer for elementary and middle school students who want to learn the game; but more than that, at the end of each session the students will gather to take what they’ve learned and connect tennis to life lessons.


Motwani said tennis is a sport that provides so many of those life lessons. It is a sport that has given him so much. He simply wants to give back.


“My favorite thing about tennis is the life lessons that are manifested in the game such as following your passion; determination; the importance of practice and hard work; humility; sportsmanship; seeking first to understand and many more. This sport has the power to teach people lessons that carry with them off the court and into life.”


The clinics over the summer are popular and the kids participating very much enjoy getting outside to learn something new. He sees ACE evolving into more than the camps in the future, but seeing the excitement of children learning is something that Motwani loves about giving back. 


He said for that reason, ACE’s clinics for elementary-aged students are his favorite.


“Last summer we hosted tennis clinics for elementary school students at Fairgrounds Park in the Ville Neighborhood of St. Louis. My favorite memory of that summer would have to be every morning the kids running out of their houses to meet me at the court to grab their racket and start hitting with their friends. The sheer excitement on their faces and eagerness to learn the sport is why our elementary school clinics are my favorite.”


Motwani envisions ACE Academy being a part of the progress to end racial inequality in St. Louis. In addition to spreading the love for tennis and providing clinics to a large age group, he hopes ACE student are eventually able to give back. He believes doing that will allow ACE’s mission to spread even further. 


Giving to the community is something always on Motwani’s mind. When COVID-19 affected his junior tennis season, he wondered how he could help others. This set the wheels in motion to ensure more healthcare workers in North St. Louis County received the equipment needed to do their jobs. ACE Academy was able to donate over 2,500 masks to nursing and rehabilitation centers. Watch the COVID-19 call to action video.


“We allocated funding from ACE Academy reserves to procure necessary materials and equipment for production of masks and then connected with other local nonprofits who were producing PPE as well as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers in North County who were in need of these PPE items. We once again thank the various organizations who helped and supported us during these very important times.”


A sense of community is more important than ever during this time of uncertainty. Motwani could not be more pleased that he has found that community in tennis. 


“Another thing I love about tennis is the community that the sport fosters. In this journey with ACE Academy, I have been embraced with so much support and encouragement and have met so many inspiring people who are changing our community every day, which motivates me to move forward with our mission,” Motwani said. “Without the help of ACE’s board of advisors, the USTA, and many other community leaders and organizations which have helped with equipment, guidance, and fundraising our efforts would not be possible.”

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