Serving up an Ace in Holliston
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | July 8, 2016
HOLLISTON, MA- Rising high school senior Haley Hanstad is doing her part to grow tennis in her hometown of Holliston, MA. Hanstad has been elected captain of her varsity team next season, and more impressively, at just 17 years old, she has already completed a second season of running her own free 10 and Under Tennis program in town.
“My dad taught me to play tennis when I was very young and I’ve been playing for a long time now, and I wanted to share my passion with other kids who might not have access to lessons, courts and equipment,” Hanstad said.
Hanstad founded Holliston Aces in 2015 with her father, Ryland. With the help of her father and varsity teammates, she plays games and teaches fundamentals to beginner tennis players during two hour-long sessions on Saturday mornings throughout the spring. ADVERTISEMENT
“In the beginning I wasn’t sure how they would react to playing for the first time, and whether they would be quick learners or not, so it was hard to keep them all at the same pace,” she added. “We gave them each individual attention and the more they played, the more they improved, and it definitely became easier over time.”
One thing Hanstad noticed however, is that despite ability level, most kids were eager to learn new skills and were having fun applying them. She had a number of parents report back to her with positive feedback and asking for suggestions on which racquets to buy for their kids.
“The most enjoyable thing for me is watching them have fun. It’s great to see the kids enjoy something this much that they haven’t done before. It makes me feel proud to see their success and the confidence they gain when they get something.
Last year, the program quickly gained popularity around town, and this past spring, all eight sessions filled up almost immediately. Hanstad worked with the Holliston Parks and Recreation Department to secure courts at Goodwill Park, and because of the high demand, she needed three courts rather than the two she originally planned for.
In 2015, USTA New England gave Holliston Aces an equipment grant to get the program up and running, providing them with racquets, balls and pop-up nets.
“There’s no other free tennis program here and this is a great chance to get them to start playing early, Hanstad said. “The grant was really helpful for us and we couldn’t have done the program without it. We use all the equipment, especially the racquets because only about three kids had racquets the first time.”
“Holliston Aces is similar to many programs we support, but it’s different in the sense that it’s not a big organization but one run by a father and daughter,” said Kristen Liteplo, USTA New England Tennis Service Representative for Eastern Massachusetts. “You can tell they are in it for right reasons to support kids that need it. You don’t hear about that these days, and that’s what was so special about this program.”
Since Hanstad is going into her senior year and plans to attend college next fall, next spring will likely be her final year running the program. But with a strong tennis foundation in her family, she hopes her sister, Mary Grace, who will be a high school freshman this year, can carry on the legacy and keep the Holliston Aces tradition going strong.
For more information about Holliston Aces, visit their website.