First Serve benefactor earns key to city

Published 10:36 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Thomas C. Cundy isn’t a man who is easily overwhelmed.

On Friday, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford managed to do just that, presenting the chairman and CEO of Cundy Inc. with a key to the city in recognition of his role in bringing a First Serve Inc. chapter to Troy.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I can’t believe it, Mayor,” Cundy while visiting in the mayor’s private office. “I’m overwhelmed.”

Cundy, a former competitive college tennis player and board member of First Serve Inc., has been a long-time board member of the national non-profit organization founded by Arthur Ashe. First Serve is a life skills curriculum that uses tennis to empower underserved youth with the skills, values and experience they need to be responsible and productive citizens. First Serve added eight chapters to its existing 16 chapter network in June, including the Troy chapter.

“This is a perfect format because you have a university involved,” Cundy said. “What was so great is you had the combination of the mayor and the city (support), the chancellor and the university, and the varsity tennis coach and the athletic director.”

All those individuals, working together with a shared mission of providing the First Serve experience to young people in Troy, created opportunities that other communities may not be able to offer.

“We started several years ago bringing middle school kids across the road (to the city owned tennis courts) and we know that a great percentage of them would never have an opportunity to be on a tennis court in their life if it weren’t for that,” Lunsford said. “First Serve is an expansion of this and it couples so well with things we’re already trying to accomplish here.”

And, speaking to Cundy, who lobbied for the program in rural Troy, he added, “to have someone of your stature support it, well, that means so much more.” First Serve typically is located in larger communities and serves inner-city children. Cundy, who is a longtime friend of Troy Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins and an advocate of the Troy program, lobbied for the selection of Troy as a site for a new chapter.

The First Serve program will allow up to 20 students in grades three and four to work with tutors and tennis coaches three days a week after school. “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,” Troy University tennis coach Eric Hayes said previously.

Students who are interested in the program will be screened, along with their parents, and selected to participate. Anyone wanting more information about the program can contact Hayes at 334-670-3649 or via email at