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USTA pros give back

A group of USTA professional tennis players took time out of their schedules Wednesday for a day of learning at the Lunsford Tennis Complex in Troy. Goshen Elementary School students were on hand to watch and learn from the pros. The children watched matches in the morning and took part in a clinic in the afternoon.

“I get to see real tennis players for the first time instead of watching them on TV,” Yilmaz Adams said. “I may get some autographs today. The best part is being out of school too. I may not even have homework tonight.”

The students got a close-up view of all the action.

“I’m lucky to be here and get to watch tennis,” Brice Benca said.

Benca also hopes his teacher, Mrs. Waters, will extend his spelling test another day.

“I want to learn how to dribble the ball with a racket,” Tyesha Fuller said. “I watched the girls play, and I just feel great being out here today.”

The children had some prior knowledge of the game, but for the most part the sport is a brand new horizon.

“We played at school some,” Jada Jones said. “I just want to learn how to hit the ball real good.”

Jones said she wouldn’t mind being a tennis player when she grows up.

A’Causia Wheeler wouldn’t mind playing professional tennis either.

“I would like to win all that money,” Wheeler said. “If I won the tournament I would help my family and give a lot of it to charities.”

O’Tiisjah Harper was excited about learning some tennis, and she was amazed at how hard they hit the ball.

“I know I can’t hit the ball that hard,” Harper said. “If I won this tournament I would buy my momma a house with the money.”

The very reason the kids were at the tournament was to show them that it is possible for them to accomplish something like becoming a professional tennis player.

“This just helps to show them that they have no boundaries,” said Lisa Hayes, GES physical education teacher. “I want all of these children to know that they can do anything as long as they put their mind to it.”

Hayes said this experience is about more than just watching and playing tennis.

“This helps their self-esteem and helps them to learn some teamwork too,” Hayes said.

This is just one of many occasions the USTA Tennis Classic of Troy reaches out to the surrounding community in efforts to serve.

Troy University head tennis coach Eric Hayes, Troy assistant coach Tyler Faulkner, USTA professionals and the city of Troy strive for the tournament to be more than just a tournament.

They want it to be a memorable experience for the community, according to Lisa Hayes..

“Eric does a great job with reaching out to the community and getting lots of people involved with this,” Lisa Hayes said. “He always helps us plan a trip to this every year, and the kids absolutely love it.”

The students loved being out of school, or most of them did.

“I don’t like to miss school, but I am having fun watching tennis today,” Octavia Brunson said.

Regardless of preference about being in school or not, the children had an enjoyable time watching and learning about the game of tennis.