Troy to sponsor ‘First Serve’ tennis

Published 8:31 pm Monday, September 6, 2010

Troy University, in conjunction with the City of Troy, has been named one of 38 National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters to deliver the First Serve Life Skill Curriculum.

The annual NJTL National Student Athlete Competition (NSCA) is one of the many ways in which the NJTL network accomplishes its mission of creating educational and recreational programming that challenges and inspires underserved young people,” said Eric Hayes, Troy University tennis coach.

The 12-month, point-based competition gives thousands of youths in grades 5-12 throughout the United States the opportunity to compete in both USTA-sanctioned tennis tournaments and in school. Academic scholarships are awarded to those with the best grades and junior tournament results. Participation is also a factor.

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“First Serve is going to present tremendous opportunities to the youth of our community,” Hayes said. “These are opportunities they have never had before. The great thing about First Serve is its academic focus as well as teaching life skills. This program will leave lifetime, lasting, positive impressions on these kids, and I couldn’t be more proud to have it here in Troy.”

Hayes said First Serve is geared more toward the inner-city youths but, because Pike County is a rural area with many underserved children, and with the backing of Tom Cundy, a member of the First Serve board of directors, Troy University was selected.

“When you look at the list of chapters, we are by far the smallest,” Hayes said. “We are very fortunate to have an opportunity like this for our young people. It will make a difference in the lives of those who participate.”

The First Serve Life Skill Curriculum is split into two semesters and will target students in grades three and four. Twenty students will be selected for the program through an interview process with the student and his or her parents or parent.

“We will work with the students three days a week after school,” Hayes said. “We will have tutors who will work with them in the first part of the session and we will also work with the students on life skills and, then we’ll play tennis. What this program is all about is molding lives and that’s what our focus will be.”

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. said being selected to participate in the First Serve program is a major development for the university’s tennis program.

“The First Serve program puts the emphasis where it belongs by stressing academics first and athletics second,” Hawkins said. “Through its scholarship program, First Serve provides accessibility to higher education, so generations of students from our area will realize their dreams of attending college.”

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford echoed Hawkins’ sentiments about what the First Serve Life Skills Curriculum will bring to the university, the city and the young people of the area. He also applauded Hayes for his efforts in bringing this program, as well as other tennis related activities, to Troy.

“Eric Hayes has done so much for the community through tennis, not just at the university,” Lunsford said. “He brings school kids from the area to the complex and introduces them to the game of tennis. The First Serve program will complement what he has already been doing.

“This program gives young children who don’t have the opportunity, or won’t get the opportunity to learn about tennis, to have that chance with an academic focus too. It’s a great thing for the children, and First Serve offers tremendous benefits.”

Those who are interested in participating in First Serve are encouraged call Hayes at 334-670-3649 or contact him via email at