Roll With It Monthly Grants at Work: Rollin’ Rackets
“Grants at Work” is a report from the Grants Subcommittee of the USTA National Wheelchair Tennis Committee. The Grants Subcommittee stays in touch with, and monitors the progress of, grant recipients. The subcommittee highlights exceptional programs in its “Grants at Work” reports. This month, Carolina Rollin’ Rackets organized by Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism in South Carolina, takes center stage.
The Carolina Rollin’ Rackets (CRR) wheelchair program was established in 2013. Since that time, CRR has partnered with the City of Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the Mid-Carolina Tennis Association in South Carolina.
The program was started by three individuals who fell in love with the sport of tennis: Larry Keeter, Nick Burnham and David Rogers. One day in early 2013 the three of them stopped by the Rock Hill Tennis Center and inquired about starting a program. As they say, the rest is history. Taylor Wingate joined the group a couple of years later.
Those four, along with tennis supervisor Kim Ozmon, put together the city’s first wheelchair program. In addition, Coach Tedi Doncheva, a certified wheelchair teaching pro and head of on court training joined them with assistance from Coach Keith Richardson and Coach Chanson Pakm.
With grants from the USTA, CRR was able to purchase five sport wheelchairs and other equipment such as wheels, tubes, cushions, straps, tennis balls, sun screen, gloves and other equipment necessary to play wheelchair tennis. The chairs and equipment are made available to participants in the program.
- Free Tennis Clinics are held every Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
- All ages are welcome.
- All levels, beginners to advanced tournament players, are welcome.
- Clinics feature on-court tennis drills and match play.
- In 2015, CRR was highlighted on the cover of the SC Recreation and Parks Association magazine.
- CRR grew by 50 percent in 2014 thanks to a grant received from the USTA.
- CRR has hosted several Orthotic & Prosthetic Activities Foundation (OPAF) Wheelchair Tennis Clinic with former Paralympian Karin Korb and World Team Cup women’s coach Paul Walker.
- In 2016 and 2017, CRR hosted its own USTA wheelchair tournament, The Rock and Roll Tennis Classic.
- In 2016, CRR received the Community Service Award from the USTA of South Carolina.
CRR attributes its success to being available every Friday at the same location at the Rock Hill Tennis Center. The group treats each other as family and often shares meals together after the tennis clinics.
CRR’s local program is a great example of how wheelchair tennis impacts lives by providing an avenue of recovery from physical and emotional challenges, as well as an enhanced quality of life.
To find them on Facebook: Carolina Rollin’ Rackets
Kim Ozmon is the tennis coordinator for Rock Hill Parks Recreation & Tourism