Tennis Buddies, an adult adaptive tennis group that plays at Evergreen Racquet Club in Bloomington, Ill., has received a $3,500 grant. Funds will help with instructor fees, equipment and court rental for the program taking place between January and October of 2017. The organization hopes to expand the clinics it currently offers to include a monthly unified component, pairing 12 players with Down syndrome with 12 able-bodied players (high school athletes); the program will include match play and practice one day each month. Additional goals include educating and offering the clinic to other tennis communities, entering teams into the Special Olympics Unified Qualifier in June, and qualifying teams for the Special Olympics state competition in August.
Participants pay a small fee to play in both the summer and winter clinics which are held one day each week at the Evergreen Racquet Club. The organization works with the Central Illinois Down Syndrome Organization and will be reaching out to local high school teams and club members to promote the unified program and recruit new players. Ultimately, Tennis Buddies works to improve the quality of life, both physically and socially, for these adult players by helping them learn new skills, increase their comfort with the sport and establish new relationships with the tennis community.
The organization has received a USTA/Midwest Diversity Grant for $1,000 and funding from the Central Illinois Down Syndrome Organization. Participants’ families plan to have additional fundraisers in support of its goal to expand into surrounding communities.