By Karen Ronney
Great things can happen when two tennis cultures join forces on the tennis court. Just ask Frances Simpson-Lang, the Executive Director at Mountain View Sports & Racquet Club. She noticed two groups of 2.5 level ladies playing fun doubles on a regular basis at her club during COVID-19. One was a group of Hispanic women from Mountain View, and the other, a Japanese foursome based out of Eastlake. They were very friendly and she suggested they combine to form and join a 2.5 entry level USTA Women’s League in San Diego.
The eight players gathered weekly during COVID-19 calling their group Love and Peace. They followed health and safety protocols wearing face masks, adhered to 6-foot social distancing, and employed regular hand sanitizing methods. Their league matches and practices soon became the highlight of their week.
“It seemed like a perfect fit,” Simpson Lang said. “I knew they would hit it off. They were all about the same level and shared a passion for tennis. They compete seriously but know how to have fun. Most of all, they have become great friends. It’s also perfect that they called their team Love and Peace because that’s the spirit of this amazing group.”
The SCTA Foundation and Yonex rackets joined forces to celebrate this enthusiastic beginning adult group. They co-sponsored a program to present the players with new Yonex rackets after a USTA League match.
“I’ve been playing for one year and I love tennis,” said Erina Rodrigues. “This racket is very beautiful and very expensive and I probably wouldn’t have bought it for myself. I’m so thankful because I absolutely needed a better racket.”
Hikari Blancarte is considered the veteran of the group with four years of overall tennis experience. However, she has missed time on the court while raising a family and is grateful to her new teammates because they get her out on the courts.
“Tennis is my only exercise and it feels really good get out and hit,” Blancarte said. “I am very happy to have this racket. It is easy to hit with and I have more power. Having a beautiful new racket motivates me to practice even more.”
Nana Williams has been playing tennis for about two years. The 2.5 USTA League is her first competitive experience. Other Love and Peace team members include Captain Irma Ibarra, Cristina Corona, Sara Fairbank, Julisa Arias, Nana Williams and Emiko Shojima.
“Everyone was very welcoming and they taught me all about the rules of playing games and matches,” Williams said. “I’ve wanted this Japanese racket for a long time. I am very thankful for this gift.”
The idea to help beginning adult players came from Linda Milan, Executive Director of the SCTA Foundation. She wanted to make a difference and help support a growing demographic of players who are new to tennis.
“When you start a sport like tennis it makes sense to pick up an inexpensive frame to see if you like it,” Milan said. “As you improve and learn to love the game, getting better equipment makes a big difference. This 2.5 group is passionate and we want to support their desire to learn and play.”
ABOUT THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TENNIS ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION
Our mission of “Changing Lives and Communities through Tennis,” serves as a pathway to offer financial support to individuals and organizations. We are a 501©3 nonprofit organization and the charitable arm of USTA Southern California. We help people of all ages and abilities to improve their health, fitness and quality of life through the sport of tennis. Founded in 1986, the SCTA Foundation has had a community impact of giving more than $500,000 this year through grants, scholarships, program support, equipment and more to recipients throughout Southern California. To learn more about the SCTA Foundation, please visit sctafoundation.org. To donate CLICK HERE