Kids Helping Kids Through Tennis
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | August 11, 2016
SUDBURY, MA- It doesn’t take much to get Sudbury, MA rising senior Will Tarini smiling. Tarini, 17, who will captain his Lincoln-Sudbury varsity tennis team next season, enjoys playing a variety of sports in his free time, but his true passion is helping people.
He is around people every day, teaching tennis at his local club in Sudbury, volunteering at churches and running his own tennis clinic during the summer in Dorchester.
In 2015, Tarini established the Boston chapter of Kids Serving Kids, a foundation that recycles used tennis racquets by donating them to children in need. He collects racquets year round and provides them for kids at his clinic who otherwise can’t afford them.
“I have a blast doing it, especially the clinics. Exposing these kids to the game and seeing the smile on their faces is truly awesome for me. ADVERTISEMENT As long as there is a smile on their face, it makes my day,” Tarini said.
Tarini founded the Kids Serving Kids Boston Chapter after speaking with a friend who introduced him to the Long Island, NY chapter he started. Soon after, he spoke with John Ollquist, from Holy Family Parish in Dorchester, and came up with a program to introduce young players to tennis through the church’s summer camp.
To support his efforts and help get the program underway, Tarini reached out to USTA New England. He was given an equipment grant that included dozens of racquets and balls.
“From the moment we heard about Will and his program, we knew this was something we wanted to get behind,” said Sarah Rice, USTA New England Manager of Community Development. “We’re always thrilled see a young person with so much motivation and desire to help grow and develop the game of tennis.”
“I can’t thank USTA New England enough. Using the orange balls in the program was great for the 7-9 year-olds and the new racquets were even better. Showing kids the new equipment and letting them see what they would be using was awesome and got them excited,” Tarini said.
For a group of children that previously had little to no tennis exposure prior to this clinic, Tarini said the majority took a liking to the game almost immediately. In an effort to authenticate their experiences, he also got to know as many of them as he could on a personal level and learn about their backgrounds and upbringings.
“In the down time, you really form a bond with the kids and you hope you can be a good friend and mentor and someone they can look up to,” Tarini said. “Many of them wanted to come back during the fall and winter and wanted to know how else they could play, and I really wish I could do more for them.”
Tarini got to know one player particularly well throughout the clinic who faced a number of hardships growing up. Now eight years old, the child is staying positive and is a “always a fun kid on the court to be around.” Tarini said that one week the child asked him for a few racquets to take home in order to play tennis with his brothers. He gladly obliged.
“I’m hoping it can be coping factor, and it can relieve stress for him,” Tarini said. “He might be thinking about the past but then goes out and plays tennis with his brothers or friends and he might feel better.” I’m so happy he came and I had the opportunity to learn about him.”
Those are the stories that make what he does all worthwhile for Tarini. He loves tennis, but enjoys even more spreading the joy of the game and hoping it will make an impact.
He plans on continuing the program next summer, but then hopes to pass it down to a younger member of his varsity team when he goes off to college.