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G.R. Selected To Get National After-School Tennis Program

picture of student group with rackets
City of Grand Rapids
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The City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools are playing doubles on a new strategy to use tennis instruction to promote children’s physical activity and develop social and emotional skills.  Grand Rapids was selected as one of only 3 cities for a national after-school tennis program.

“It’s extremely exciting for us, one to be working with the U-S Tennis Association but also with the National League of Cities.  We’re excited to be bringing this to Grand Rapids and especially for our children in our after-school programs.”

Lynn Heemstra is the Executive Director of Our Communities Children, which is a partnership between the city of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools.  She’s excited because Grand Rapids is one of only three cities chosen for a national afterschool tennis program.  Grand Rapids along with Los Angeles and Orlando will run the United States Tennis Association or USTA’s Pilot partnership program.  It’s the  Net Generation curriculum and coaching support.  Tennis instruction will be offered during local afterschool programs to ensure children and youth from underserved communities have access to the sport.

“Tennis is something that you can play throughout your life.  And, often times, children don’t even have the opportunity to even pick up a racket.  And it has some tremendous benefits. Obviously, it’s a very health game to play.”

Instructors from the USTA will visit Grand Rapids on March 6th to teach the basics to after-school providers and GRPS teachers.  Heemstra says afterschool programs are critical children’s success.

“These programs help build social and emotional learning skills, helps them build their confidence and helps them be better citizens in our cities.”

The pilot initiative also includes up to 100-thousand dollars to renovate GRPS high school tennis courts.

Heemstra says after the training, teachers will begin a six-week tennis course through the after-school program.