A new chapter? Moving On Up: Youth tennis program needs you!

Retirement may not be the correct word for this stage of my life. Perhaps “a new chapter” or “self-scheduled time” is a better way to describe my days. Aside from continuing to prepare for tennis competition, I have been quite busy as a board member of two non-profits, Moving On Up with Tennis and Education, and Girl’s Inc.

Moving On Up (MOU) is part of the National Junior Tennis League started by Arthur Ashe many years ago. There are over 350 affiliates reaching 200,000 children ages 6-18 across the country. Our chapter serves children in the greater Springfield area and is funded by donations and grants. We offer various tennis programs year round — the largest of these is our summer clinic in Forest Park, which averaged over 70 children daily last year. The clinic is free. We provide rackets, t-shirts and water bottles to all participants, and the city of Springfield offers a free lunch each day.

Over the past two summers I have met wonderful parents and children and my attachment to them remains. Two summers ago, I met Alayna, a seven-year-old girl, and her older brother Shem, who also came to the clinic. Over the course of the first week of the clinic, I enjoyed working with all of the children, and especially appreciated the connection developing with Alayna. Sometime during the second week, on a day that I had not come to the park and another instructor was leading the session, I received a call from one of the volunteers telling me that Alayna would not go on the court and that she was crying. I spoke with her, and it seemed she was sad I was not there. I told her that I would be back, and she joined the lesson.

The following day, I arrived early to set up the courts. Alayna had also come early with her mom and brother. She came running to me to give me a hug and to offer me a gift — apparently, as she told me, her favorite thing ever! It was in a small plastic box and when I opened it I saw that it was a small rock. Well, I still have that rock, which remains quite special to me, and I continue my relationship with both Alayna and her mom. Alayna sings in her church choir and her mom periodically sends me a video of her singing. I have also met both of them during the winter at the local library just to hang out.

As those of you who have read earlier blog posts know, as much as I love all aspects of the game of tennis, it is the relationships I have formed — with my partners, teammates, opponents, and students — that have most enriched my life. How lucky am I? Working with MOU and with Girls Inc. continues to offer me new opportunities to form new, meaningful relationships, as with Alayna and her family. Each day that I drive to Forest Park, I find myself smiling and appreciating again what tennis continues to bring me.

MOU NEEDS YOU: You too can reap the benefits of working with MOU. Volunteer or join our staff as a tennis instructor this summer! See below for more information.

PERSONAL COMPETITION UPDATE: On February 17 I fly to Naples, Florida, to compete in the Russell Cup, a Category 2 National tournament. This is my first tournament in the 70 division, on clay, outdoors. Of course I have been practicing indoors on hard courts … not the best preparation for sure. We shall see!

– Judy Dixon

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HEAD INSTRUCTOR NEEDED FOR MOVING ON UP – YOUTH TENNIS PROGRAM

Moving on Up seeks to hire individuals to teach Monday- Thursday, July 8-11, July 15-18, July 29-August 1, and August 5-8. The hours are 8:30-11 a.m. with the clinic portion 9:30-11 a.m. The hour prior to the clinic is set aside for volunteer training each day. There will be an unpaid volunteer on each court that you will work with and train each day following the set curriculum. We ask that instructors sign up to teach a minimum of two weeks. Instructors will be paid $200 per week / $50 per day. In case of rain there will be no clinic and no makeup date. All instructors must be certified through the USTA Safe Play program and the certification number emailed to judydixontennis@gmail.com. Judy will be training all of the head instructors sometime in June at Forest Park. If you are interested, please email her before May 15.

MOU NEEDS YOU: VOLUNTEER TO BE AN INSTRUCTOR

Moving On Up With Tennis and Education is looking for volunteers to join its summer tennis clinic at Forest Park in Springfield, MA. The program runs Monday through Thursday, 9-11 a.m., on the following weeks: July 8-11, July 15-18, July 29-August 1, and August 5-8.

Volunteers will work on court with children ages 6-17 and will follow a set curriculum. Each court will be supervised by a Head Instructor who will provide training each morning 9-9:30 a.m. prior to the start of each day. Ability to work with groups of children is important, expertise in tennis not necessary. We ask that volunteers commit to as many days as possible to bring continuity to the program. All volunteers should be confirmed through the USTA’s Safe Play. If interested, please contact Wendy at wendytennis@gmail.com by June 1.

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Moving On Up With Tennis and Education is a non profit organization whose mission is to promote physical and mental development through tennis and education in the greater Springfield area.

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