The Immokalee Foundation recently hosted an after-school tennis program at Pelican Marsh as part of its mission to inspire the underserved youth of Immokalee through education.
The afternoon of tennis instruction was led by Jim Holt Sr., who also serves as assistant coach of the Gwynedd-Mercy College women’s tennis team in Gwynedd Valley, Penn., and other members of the Center Court Athletics, a volunteer group of players from the Pelican Marsh Tennis Club. In addition to providing tennis lessons to TIF youth, Center Court Athletics also works to secure donations of rackets, balls and miscellaneous equipment to be used in the program.
Sixteen students from RCMA Charter School and four from Immokalee Middle School learned the basics of the game and practiced their skills with short games and drills as they rotated among three sets of volunteer instructors. They had the opportunity of hitting balls at targets; volleyed back and forth; and tested their ability to hit the ball in different sections of the court.
Holt, who co-founded the program, said he hopes learning the game will enrich the students’ lives as it has his own, “I enjoy helping with my favorite sport, and I hope they’ll benefit from it like I did, playing tennis all over the world. Maybe later on, they’ll be playing at Florida Gulf Coast University or even Wimbledon.”
After the instruction portion of the afternoon, the students had the opportunity to watch their four coaches play a round of doubles from a courtside vantage point.
Thanks to the Holts and the Center Court Athletics volunteers, the TIF program continues to inspire and provide Immokalee youth by providing opportunities to build physical and social skills that help its participants grow, learn and advance to educational and professional heights that otherwise may not have been possible.
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.