I’ve been an avid tennis player for as long as I can remember. As a kid I used to escape my older brothers’ torments by wandering down to the local gym – my Wilson Advantage wooden racket in hand – to whack a ball against the wall. Now I get to manage the only indoor clay court tennis facility east of Montreal with the primary objective to grow the game of tennis in Nova Scotia at a grass roots level.
Our first school visit was to Harbour View Elementary in Dartmouth. We were immediately drawn to these students because of their strong personal character and the immense support evident from their Physical Education teacher. It was a great mix of kids from all corners of the world. One student in particular, who had only been in Canada for a few days, was understandably shy at first. In no time we watched his shyness give way to play.
As the pros were teaching the fundamentals of the game, I walked around and chatted with the kids and teachers to find out more about their school, their interests and their lives. I soon learned that many of the kids in this neighborhood did not have access to organized sport due to family financial difficulties or support. Many face unbelievable situations on a personal level, yet showed tremendous appreciation for our visit and for the game of tennis. We were hooked.
Since our first visit we have returned to the school a second time and are now organizing programming for them at the Daniel Nestor Tennis Centre and planning for summer camp opportunities. Programs like this are partially funded through an event we run yearly that includes a visit from Daniel Nestor himself. ‘RAISE A RACQUET FOR KIDS’ was established to raise funds to for visiting schools and then offer scholarship opportunities to those kids that were interested.
In the past month we have visited over a half-dozen schools and are scheduled to visit two-a-week right up until the summer break. We are running a FREE day at the Centre at the end of the school year for all the schools so kids can enjoy playing on clay courts, win some prizes and share a few laughs.
We are committed to building confidence, leadership and team camaraderie in the youth of our community. We believe that through tennis we can change lives and help kids achieve goals in education that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to explore.
Whilst visiting schools is our primary objective, I welcome any ideas you might have as we try to build the game of tennis in Nova Scotia. If you are a local school in the HRM and would like a visit, let us know and we can arrange a time.