New England

The Backpack Program: Bringing Tennis Home One Backpack at a Time

March 02, 2021

DAMARISCOTTA, ME - Imagine being a young child during a raging pandemic and you unexpectedly receive a backpack. Reaching inside, you find two new tennis racquets, tennis balls, net tape, a jump rope, art supplies – essentially it is filled with hope, fun, and endless possibilities. There is also a folder with tennis games, directions on how to play tennis at home as well as some creative art project ideas. This was the vision that became reality for 60 families in midcoast Maine. 


Tennis Without Borders wanted to find creative and innovative ways to engage with families during COVID-19, while ensuring their health and safety. The National Junior Tennis & Learning Chapter, Stay and Play, stemming from the Central Lincoln County YMCA (CLC YMCA), is an extremely successful program designed to engage youth in tennis. Building upon that work, the Backpack Program was created to present the equipment to children so they can learn to play tennis and get involved in other creative activities in a safe way as they navigate remote schooling and limited physical activity. Tennis Without Borders knows that through tennis, children acquire and strengthen skills such as cooperation, fair play, and having fun while engaging in healthy, physical activity. 

The Thrive after school program at the CLC YMCA was the first to receive their backpacks. Georgia Ahlers, Youth Tennis and Schools Coordinator, presented one to each child and the joy on all of their smiling faces meant instant success. Soon enough, racquets were pulled out of the bags as the children began to play tennis. All of this happened one backpack at a time. 


Tennis without Borders is a 501©3 non-profit whose mission is to help children develop life skills through the sport of tennis. The Backpack Program was created and implemented in collaboration with the Maine Tennis Association and the CLCYMCA in Damariscotta, Maine. We are grateful to all of the donors and volunteers who made this remarkable program a reality. Please contact Seth Meyer (  for more information. 

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