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Florence Tennis Association Initiates Its Genesis Youth Program

June 28, 2007 01:44 PM

The FTA just held the first of three week-long summer clinics for at-risk teens and pre-teens and it was a smashing success. Thirty kids had a great time learning to play tennis with USPTA pro and FTA Executive Committee member Jay Rogers. In fact they had so much fun that most of them have “volunteered” to come back for the July and August clinics. And the kids weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the week of on-court activities. Rogers, who has been teaching for over 12 years, called Genesis the “highlight” of his career as a pro. “The kids were great,” he added. “They were extremely well-behaved and totally involved. You could tell they really wanted to be there.” In fact, two of the youngsters showed so much talent and enthusiasm that the FTA has arranged for them to attend the Francis Marion University Tennis Camp later this summer, and several others will receive Ralleyball/USA Team Tennis scholarships.

Rogers had a lot of dedicated assistance on court. The clinics are being held in cooperation with the Genesis Program, a faith-based initiative established in Florence by African-American community leaders to provide character building activities for local youth, and the Genesis Program provided adult mentors to help out throughout the week. Pastor George Mitchell, who helped found the Genesis Program, called the series of summer clinics “a great addition to the opportunities we can make available to the kids,” and noted that the adult mentors had almost as much fun as the youngsters. None of the adults were experience tennis players, but one of the program’s goals is to help them learn the game so that they can conduct follow-up activities with the young people who go through the clinics.

During the summer Genesis will provide a wide range of activities, everything from archery to the arts, with the goal of keeping teenagers off the streets and out of trouble during the vacation months. The tennis program will be an important part of that effort—one that will expose some ninety youngsters to the world’s greatest sport. It is also one of the most effective partnerships Florence has seen in years, with the FTA providing instruction, balls, equipment, tee shirts, and volunteers, while Genesis is contributing transportation and enlisting the kids and adult mentors.

This ambitious undertaking was inspired in part by the Florence Mayor’s Coalition To Prevent Juvenile Crime, which has made the creation of summer programs for young people one of its major objectives. Funding for this year’s inaugural clinics is coming from grants from the Junior League of Florence and the USTA Southern Section, with large contributions from Genesis and the FTA. Next year the organizers will seek financial assistance from area businessmen and other community leaders to continue the program, and with the right combination of community sponsorship and volunteerism it should be a success for many years to come.

FTA Genesis

FTA Genesis

FTA Genesis

FTA Genesis

FTA Genesis

FTA Genesis
 

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