Foundation serves up tennis lessons to Pasco youth

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Since its October grand opening ceremony, the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Heart in Zephyrhills has garnered widespread recognition for its breadth of racquet sports activities and different facilities.
The ten-acre athletic complicated, situated off Simons Street, is owned by the Metropolis of Zephyrhills, however privately managed and operated. It boasts 11 tennis courts, eight pickleball courts and 4 padel courts. It additionally presents a mixture of peak efficiency therapies in the best way of a state-of-the-art health middle, cryotherapy, salt room remedy and sports activities counseling.
Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Basis program director Nick Walton, left, with basis ambassador Isaac Mitchell. Teen ambassadors, together with Mitchell, volunteer within the afterschool applications and symbolize the muse at different neighborhood occasions. For his or her efforts, ambassadors obtain coaching and personal teaching privileges on the new tennis middle. (Courtesy of Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Basis)These options, amongst others, set the power up as a regional, nationwide and even worldwide racquet sports activities vacation spot, with potential to host world-class tournaments {and professional} gamers on-site for coaching.
However, past the scope of drawing tourism and big-money occasions to East Pasco, the sports activities facility is also serving up outreach alternatives for neighborhood youth.
That’s being accomplished via the power’s 501c3 nonprofit companion group, referred to as the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Basis.
The muse’s mission is “to supply tennis and training programming in Pasco County communities via character-building, bodily exercise, and mentoring.”
The muse — and tennis middle— is known as in honor of the previous Zephyrhills Excessive College district champion who grew to become a scholarship participant on the College of South Carolina Upstate ladies’s tennis crew.
Sarah Vande Berg, the daughter of Zephyrhills planning director Todd Vande Berg, died in an vehicle accident on the age of 21 in October 2015.
Sarah Vande Berg Basis program director Nick Walton and Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Heart CEO Pascal Collard offered updates in regards to the nonprofit’s progress throughout a Zephyrhills Metropolis Council assembly final month.
Earlier this fall, the muse launched a pair of free afterschool applications at each West Zephyrhills Elementary and Raymond B. Stewart Center Colleges. Programming had been set to start on the faculties within the spring, however was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the brand new afterschool program, basis coaches and volunteers are on-site on the faculties twice every week for 2 hours every day, educating introductory tennis fundamentals, diet habits and character training lessons, for youngsters in grades three via eight.
The Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Basis lately launched a pair of free afterschool applications at each West Zephyrhills Elementary and Raymond B. Stewart Center faculties. Coaches and volunteers from the muse are on-site on the faculties twice every week for 2 hours every day, educating introductory tennis fundamentals, diet habits and character training lessons, for youngsters in grades three via eight. This system assists youth of all talent ranges and backgrounds, together with many low-income and minority youth with restricted entry to organized sports activities.This system assists youth of all talent ranges and backgrounds, together with many low-income and minority youth who’ve restricted entry to organized sports activities.
Many of the roughly 30 youth gamers from every respective college had by no means picked up a racquet previous to becoming a member of this system.
In a nutshell, right here’s how the afterschool initiative works: All members are incentivized from the primary day to point out as much as all lessons, take heed to their coaches, comply with directions, and take a look at their finest to enhance. College students who deal with these targets diligently for 4 consecutive weeks are rewarded with a brand-new racquet for them to take dwelling and follow.
“We need to break down limitations to the game of tennis and entry to equitable training companies,” Walton mentioned of this system. “Our imaginative and prescient is for all college students to have private progress and constructive relationships via tennis.”
The muse additionally has sponsored a teen ambassador program geared towards eighth grade and highschool college students. These ambassadors assist volunteer within the afterschool applications and symbolize the muse at different neighborhood occasions. For his or her efforts, ambassadors obtain coaching and personal teaching privileges on the new tennis middle.
“We’re positively greater than tennis,” mentioned Walton. “What we’re creating is a neighborhood of younger individuals who will develop collectively, on and off the courtroom.”
That occurs, he mentioned, via constructive function fashions and mentors, a heavy emphasis on training and progress via sport and bodily well-being.
The muse additionally presents a school scholarship program, awarding a number of scholarships every year to graduating Zephyrhills Excessive College student-athletes. Scholarship choice standards embrace tutorial efficiency, management qualities, volunteerism, neighborhood engagement and sports activities involvement.
Athletes from all sports activities are inspired to use, not simply those that play tennis.
Six scholarships have been awarded over the previous three years, based on the muse’s web site. The deadline to use is April 30 every year.
Zephyrhills Metropolis Councilman Lance Smith referred to as the muse’s different efforts “an incredible factor for the entire neighborhood.”
“I’m simply actually excited as a result of we’re in these faculties the place we have to attain these children,” mentioned Smith. “Introducing them to a sport and educating them about what they should do to turn into good folks, creating good character in them, so I couldn’t be happier to be concerned with them.”
The Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Basis has methodically constructed up its base since design plans and building for the multimillion greenback tennis middle had been en route a couple of years in the past.The muse’s first main fundraiser was held in October 2018, at Arbor Inexperienced in New Tampa.
That tennis clinic and occasion gala was headlined by Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame coach Nick Bolletti, famend for grooming 10 world No. 1 gamers, together with Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and Dade Metropolis’s Jim Courier, amongst many others.
The gala helped increase greater than $10,000, used to buy tennis rackets and to subsidize tennis camps for youth.
Whole donations have since reached $30,500, based on the muse’s web site. Supporting companions embrace the USA Tennis Basis, Wilson Sporting Items, Duke Vitality and Zephyrhills Water.
The muse mirrors the same outreach program referred to as Down The Line and Past, which Collard spearheaded whereas he was tennis director at The Merion Cricket Membership, a non-public membership in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia-area nonprofit has grown to serve greater than 1,600 underprivileged youths from ages 7 to 17, and facilitates constructive character and training growth via tennis classes.
A few of these youths even went on to earn collegiate tennis scholarships because of their growth in this system.
“None of them would’ve performed tennis — none— with out the muse. We’re going to do the identical factor over right here (in Zephyrhills),” Collard mentioned in a previous interview with The Laker/Lutz Information.
For extra info, go to SVBTennisFoundation.com.
Printed December 16, 2020
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