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New England

Maine’s Perry Makes

Tennis And Learning Fun

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications  |  April 11, 2019
<h2>Maine’s Perry Makes </h2>
<h1>Tennis And Learning Fun</h1>
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SOUTH PARIS, ME- Walter Perry, of South Paris, ME, is the dad, teacher and coach every kid wants. A chemistry teacher at Oxford Hills High School in South Paris, Perry has the personality, relatability and passion for kids that constantly keep them engaged. And those qualities apply to all aspects of his life.  

 

A high school tennis coach for 20 years between Oxford Hills, Greely High and Sanford High, Perry left varsity coaching last spring to pursue other avenues. At that time, he approached Eric Driscoll, USTA New England Tennis Service Representative for Maine, asking for a letter of recommendation. Coincidentally, Driscoll had the perfect opportunity for him.

 

“We were looking for a tennis coach for our Park and Recreation Pilot program in Portland, and Walter was the perfect fit. His energy is contagious, and we knew the kids and parents would gravitate to him,” Driscoll said.

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Perry has referred to himself as the Pied Piper at family reunions. Oftentimes, his relatives would tell him to take the kids, and without hesitation, he’d set up a game and immediately be followed by a group of excited nieces and nephews.

 

“Whether teaching or coaching, I just identify with kids. I think I can understand them well. I see a lot of adults talking to kids and there’s just a big communication gap,” Perry said. “My daughter always says I’m a fun dad because I’ll always go play. When we go to the beach for example, lots of people just sit there and let their kids go, and I go jump in the waves and build sand castles.”

 

Perry made the hour plus drive once a week to Deering Oaks Park in Portland to lead the program, which targeted red, orange and green ball players from grades 1 to 8. This became the first tennis program run through the Portland Recreation Department in five years.

 

“It was in a beautiful location right in the hub of Portland. There was a farmer’s market, a playground, and parents liked to come and stay with their kids,” Perry said. “I’d make it fun, with challenges and obstacle courses, and the kids that got there early always wanted to help set up.”

 

The program gained traction and continued throughout last summer and fall, with many parents even requesting a winter session. The success was primarily due to Perry’s leadership and creativity. For first-time players and newcomers to the game, Perry knew he had to be creative and keep them wanting more.

“It’s been a lot of fun for sure. I look forward to every session and try to make every time unique,” Perry said. “I always try to cater to whatever audience I have and make sure the kids will like the activity. “It’s always a goal to lead kids to have fun and make them forget that they’re learning.”

 

The 2019 spring session of what is now called Tennis in the Parks, begins in May, and Driscoll hopes that with a few additional registrations, it can become one of the largest Parks and Recreation tennis programs in the state.

 

“We’re thrilled to have Walter back with us this spring to continue the growth of tennis throughout the greater Portland area,” Driscoll said. “We’ve seen steady participation in every session thus far, and with his continued creativity and leadership, we know this program can generate the awareness we need to make tennis a mainstay in the city.”

 

As an extension of the Tennis in the Parks program, Perry has begun running middle school tournaments. With a noticeable gap between red, orange, and green ball instruction to high school tennis, Perry saw an opportunity to continue educating.

 

“Transitions from middle school to high school was actually what I studied in college. There is often an achievement drop when people go from one institution to another, like middle school to high school or high school to college, so that’s why I’m thinking about this program and how to make it easier for these kids,” Perry said.  

 

Perry gets underway once again with Tennis in the Parks on May 4.  

 

As part of Provider Appreciation Month, USTA New England is thanking dedicated tennis providers with web features, giveaways, and networking summits throughout the month of April. 

 

Click here to learn more or register for the spring session of Tennis in the Parks in Portland.

 

For more information on Provider Appreciation Month, click here.

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