Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

The Washington Tennis and Education Foundation gives young children the skills they need to excel in life, on the court and beyond. VOA

After a long day at school, 10-year-old Andrea Nichelson likes to play tennis. She’s been doing this for five years now, and she loves it.

“What I like most about tennis is the game. It really gets my attention than anything I do. It brings up the fire in me,” she said.

She’s one of about 900 kids in the nation’s capital who benefit from the free services offered by the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF).

The foundation started in 1955 to give children ages 8 to 18 an opportunity to play tennis and gain a variety of skills they need on the court and beyond. Through combining athletic and academic tools, the organization helps kids stay engaged and focused on their studies.

Skills and sense of belonging

In one of WTEF’s programs, coaches go to schools around the city and teach the game to students there. But in the after-school programs, kids come to the tennis facility to learn the game and do many other activities such as doing homework, designing robotics and playing chess.

WTEF’s Operation Coordinator, Audra Bell, says kids are transformed when they commit to the program.

“They learn discipline and they learn mental toughness and all the things that tennis teaches you as a whole, it’s really amazing to see,” she added.

WTEF President Rebecca Crouch-Pelham agrees.

“You’re on the court playing singles, you’re by yourself, and you’re relying on yourself,” she said. “That’s absolutely the exact same stamina, and kind of resilience that our kids need in the classroom.”

Kids in the program are excelling academically, and Crouch-Pelham says all children deserve this type of access to sports and educational services. It gives them a sense of belonging to a community.

“We see older kids coming back all the time to work in summer camps. They are the tennis coaches for young children,” Crouch-Pelham said. “We also have two pros here that grew up in the program and now they work here full time tennis coaches.”

Coming back

Mike Ragland is one of those two pros. He says joining the program at age 13 changed his life. He credits tennis for keeping him off the street and away from trouble. It also gave him a path in life. Because of his skill on the court, Ragland went to college on a full scholarship and started a career as a tennis coach.

“When they [WTEF] called and said they were building this facility, they wanted us to come back and do the program, I wanted to give back,” he said.

Coaches, in many cases, are father figures for young players. That’s why they’re expected to teach kids more than how to play tennis. They talk to the kids about life, how to carry themselves, and how to behave.

WTEF’s Operation Coordinator, Audra Bell, says kids are transformed when they commit to the program. VOA

“We give them something that they can go forward with,” Ragland said. “The way you carry yourself in tennis is probably the way you carry yourself in life, to make those life time decisions.”

Life is like tennis

Eighteen-year-old Xxavir Boone has been taking part in the program for eight years, since Coach Ragland visited his school to get young kids interested in playing the sport.

He says the program helped him learn a lot about tennis and life, like the importance of never giving up. He learned that on the court, “because anything can happen during a match.”

ALSO READ: Gender Inequality Strips Women to Control Sexual, Reproductive Options and Limit their Rights: Report

“It teaches you to just kind of push through life,” he said. “You might be down right now, but you can always pick it up sooner or later. Everyone here is doing very well in school, and that just has everything to do with tutors and teachers we have here.”

WTEF coaches say a few of their kids go on to become tennis pros. Others excel in other fields and receive full scholarships, while the rest, officials say, get a solid foundation to help them succeed in whatever they do in life. (VOA)


Photo by Flickr.

Swastika, one of the sacred symbols used by many religions like Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

The symbol of Swastika is known to signify peace, prosperity, and good fortune in the religious cultures of Eurasia. In fact, this symbol is considered very significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. But, at the same time, it has become one of the most misunderstood religious symbols and has been globally banned in many countries.

The reason why the symbol of Swastika is banned in many countries is because of its association with Adolf Hitler's extreme political ideology, Nazism, as Swastika as its official symbol.

Keep Reading Show less

Since emerging into the public eye with a historic gold medal at the junior world championships in 2016, he has maintained a high level of performance

India celebrated a historic day on August 7, as 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. In the men's javelin throw event, he achieved his greatest triumph, throwing the javelin 87.58 meters on his second try.

Neeraj Chopra was born on December 24, 1997, in Khandra village in Haryana's Panipat district. He grew up in a Haryanavi family of farmers. He is the brother of two sisters. He graduated from Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College in Chandigarh and is now enrolled in Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Chopra was bullied due to his obesity as a kid, which prompted his father to enroll him in a nearby gym. He then joined a gym in Panipat, where Jaiveer Choudhary, a javelin thrower, noticed his potential and coached him. When the 13-year-old Chopra finished training under Jaiveer for a year, he was enrolled at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, where he began training under coach Naseem Ahmed.

Keep Reading Show less
wikimedia commons

Gothic dresses displayed in a store

The emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England brought with it many apprehensions and fears that translated into a new genre in literature: the gothic. Today, the idea of the gothic does not have to much with literature as much as it is associated with fashion.

The Victorians began to wear black more often during the Industrial Revolution to hide the stains of soot on their clothes. Many of the working class were employed in factories. They were newly introduced to technology, the idea of coal as fuel, and the working of machines to serve a certain purpose. This kind of work was hard and messy. Wearing light colours burdened the tired folk when the stubborn stains did not get washed away.

Keep reading... Show less