Teaching life lessons to kids on the court

While some kids are spending their first week of summer vacation relaxing and kicking back by the pool, one group of dedicated tennis players is wrapping up a full week at the Elite Tennis Academy hosted by Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education in East Falls. 

Kids between the ages of 10 to 18-years-old (mature 7 to 9-year-olds were also accepted) have been honing their tennis skills for six hours a day with dedicated staff professionals.

Terrance Scott, the director of Elite Tennis Academy, said that the camp not only teaches kids about the game, but also gives them important real world lessons. 

“We try to teach these kids life skills as far as introducing themselves to other people, making sure they give a nice firm handshake, eye contact, things of that sort,” Scott said. “Then, they can go out and use that in the real world when they’re going on a job interview or when they’re going to meet the president of any school that they want to attend.”

Scott is also a staff pro and the director of tournaments, and goes over technique and footwork drills with the kids each morning.

“I’m making sure they’re doing the right things on and off the tennis court,” he said. “We’re about building humans here, and making sure they’re developing as good citizens in their community.”

Kein Wilson, Scott’s self-described “second-in-command,” said that tennis teaches the kids who attend the program many life skills, such as organization, focus and striving to achieve goals.

“It’s the greatest thing in the world,” he said about his job. “I’m very passionate about it.”

The kids enrolled in the Elite Academy seem to have the same can-do attitude as their coaches, putting in hard work at a young age to excel in their sport of choice.

“I want to get better,” said Anthony Chaiditya, 11. “I mean, the kids here are great. The pros here, they’re nice and they teach well. The camp is really fun, and it’s amazing.”

Zoe Ginsberg, 12, couldn’t agree more.

“The coaches here are just so encouraging,” Ginsberg, who plays tennis for Friends Central School, said. “I have so much fun at this camp, and I learn so much. I’m going to be here the rest of my time in middle school and high school because I love it here, and there are such great coaches.”

Kenny Holdsman, the president of the organization said that the mix of capable and caring coaches with young people from a wide variety of background is a powerful combination.

“At the end of the day, it’s the people who make the experience,” he said.

When it comes to his job, Terrance Scott couldn’t be happier.

“I absolutely love it,” he said. “I really enjoy working here. It’s a great facility, the kids are great, and the parents are great. We’re like on big happy family here.”

Holdsman added that the National Junior Tennis & Learning programs would soon be starting in 38 playgrounds in the cities of Philadelphia and Camden, and children are still welcome to enroll. 

For more information about the programs at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, visit http://www.ashetennis.org/.

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