Tennis instruction for children with special needs is available
It is a simple philosophy at the Vancouver Tennis Center.
“I think everyone should play,” said Sanja Lemes, director of tennis and delivery for the United States Tennis Association, Pacific Northwest at the VTC.
Last week, the Vancouver Tennis Center launched Love Serving Autism, with tennis instruction for children with special needs.
For Lemes, this is personal. She recalled, years ago, mentoring an autistic child. She said no one was giving him a chance. Then he became an excellent tennis player. She wants everyone to get the opportunity.
“We always want to expand in our community and serve as many people as we can,” Lemes said.
Love Serving Autism has five more classes in this launch, with sessions every Friday. There is a session for children ages 5 through 10 and another for ages 11 through 18.
Parents who were there for the first week’s clinic were impressed.
“We’re really excited for any opportunities for our kiddos to learn new skills, especially in social situations,” said Sara Bauer, mother of Alexandria Bauer. “Autism can make those situations really intimidating.”
Kellie Tooley was watching her son Evan on the tennis court, receiving instruction from a professional coach.
“For us, the most important thing for finding an activity for Evan to do is him being able to be with peers who are like him, where he is able to come here and be himself,” Tooley said. “A child with special needs is not necessarily going to handle sports the way that a neurotypical child is going to handle sports. It’s really amazing that the Vancouver Tennis Center has come in and decided to start this program, just something different than your regular softball or baseball. I hope the program is successful and they keep doing it.”
According to the VTC, Love Serving Autism teaches children with intellectual and developmental disabilities communication and life skills for functional independence on and off the courts.
Lemes said the VTC has a number of programs that benefit the community. Senior citizens get free court time two days a week. The center is looking into classes for the visually impaired, with smaller rackets and tennis balls that make noise.
The Vancouver Tennis Center also asks its members to donate tennis equipment and attire for local high school players to use every year.
“We’re here to make everyone play the game of tennis because it’s the healthiest game in town,” Lemes said.
There is a fee associated with the Love Serving Autism program, but Lemes said many VTC programs have scholarships available for those in need.
“If kids can’t afford to play, we’re going to help them out,” Lemes said. “We’re going to find a way.”For more information on Love Serving Autism, and other offerings at the Vancouver Tennis Center, go to: https://pnwtenniscenters.com/Vancouver/
- State basketball Thursday: Camas cruises in quarterfinals, with help from everyoneThe Camas girls basketball team had no problems in the state quarterfinals Thursday, rolling past Tahoma en route to the Class 4A state semifinals.
- State basketball Thursday: Skyview boys fall in quarterfinalsDemaree Collins scored 31 points Thursday night for the Skyview Storm, but the Davis Pirates got the job done down the stretch for a six-point victory in the Class 4A boys basketball state quarterfinals.
- State basketball Thursday: Clark County small schools lose in quarterfinalsSeton Catholic and Columbia Adventist Academy boys, and Columbia River girls lost Thursday in the elite eight of their respective tournaments.
- Like mother, like daughter?Camas standout Addison Harris is attempting to follow in her mother’s footsteps as the Camas Papermakers attempt to win a state basketball championship this week at the Tacoma Dome.
- State basketball Wednesday: Skyview boys advance to quarterfinals; Camas fallsThe Skyview Storm got defensive again, and they won again in the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals, and a few hours later, Camas just missed a trip to the elite eight, falling in the round of 12.