A regional tennis rally is being planned for July at YSU.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Roland Battle first stepped on the tennis court at 25.
Now, 54, the Warren man says he wishes he would have started sooner.
That's why he says he's involved with the local Marcus Garvey Institue of Awareness, which is teaming up with the U.S. Tennis Association's local chapter of the National Junior Tennis League, to prepare kids for the sport.
The organizations' 10th annual summer program is made up of volunteers who coach kids 8 to 17. Practice begins today and continues Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Packard Park, through Aug. 10.
The schedule is 9 a.m. to noon for intermediate and advanced players, and 10 a.m. to noon for beginners.
Many lessons: Battle, the Garvey institute's assistant director, said the program is not just about teaching tennis. It also promotes self-confidence, discipline, physical fitness and socialization.
It used to be geared toward black children, Battle said. Now, students of all races participate, compete against one another and occassionally challenge other tennis clubs from Youngstown and Akron.
The two organizations will have a regional tennis rally from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 19 at Youngstown State University.
Children 6 to 18 are welcome to participate, and the event is free.
Kenya Roberts, a school-community liaison at Western Reserve Middle School, said any child can participate in morning activities, which will include age-appropriate games.
The public is then welcome to watch local athletes square off with players from other U.S. Tennis Association chapters in cities including Toledo, Cleveland, Akron and Columbus.
For questions on the rally, call Roberts at (330) 393-3219.
Early preparation: The local program also serves to boost tennis teams at Warren G. Harding High School and Turner, East and Western Reserve middle schools, by preparing pupils early for competition.
Roberts said tennis teams first formed at Warren's three middle schools in fall 1999, building athletes who go on to compete in high school.
Corey Ingham, Harding girls' and boys' tennis coach, said the program is helpful because she can work with students on strategies rather than teaching basic skills.
More than a sport: Another aspect of the tennis program focuses on academics.
The Marcus Garvey College Bound program is available for at-risk youths, beginning in third grade.
It's designed to give children the skills to build a foundation for success in college and with accomplishment of career goals.
Curriculum includes math, science, reading and a self-motivation course called "Yes, I Can!"
Public speaking and confidence building exercizes also are emphasized.
Participants will visit at least one major college or university in the summer. To date, trips have included Howard University in Washington, D.C., Kent State University and YSU.
This three-week program runs July 9-27, and at the end, participants receive a certificate and trophy for completion.