BY JON CRONIN
Last Saturday the West Side Tennis Club Foundation in Forest Hills raised $18,000 for scholarships to winter classes for children.
Each scholarship awarded is $1,500 and will allow a needy child in the community to take lessons at the West Side Tennis Club from October through April. The winter program usually includes about 150 kids, 12 of whom last year received scholarships.
“The gala went very well for a first-time effort,” said Bob Ingersole, tennis director for the club. “If we get more money, then we award more scholarships,” he added.
Ingersole noted, “Whatever money we raise, all of it goes back to these grants.”
The foundation, which supports needy neighborhood kids, stroke victims and tennis enthusiasts in wheelchairs, is the brain child of Ingersole, who started it with one of the club’s board members in 2003. “It’s been chugging along since.”
“This year our President Roland Meier really pushed [the fundraising],” said Ingersole
According to a statement from the club, “the mission [of the foundation] includes empowering children to learn life skills through tennis and has a goal of introducing children to tennis and helping needy children advance through the skills development that tennis offers.”
Ingersole said they tell groups, many local, what they have available in scholarships and lets the groups pick. Some of those participating group are: Power-Play, who aids in empowering young women through sports, New York Junior Tennis League, Forest Hills Community House and Forestdale Orphanage.
Ingersole said, “They’re not necessarily good players, but we’re looking to make a difference in these kids’ lives.”
The program boasts the kids will learn self-esteem, time- and stress-management, as well as, “putting success and failure in proportion and developing socially acceptable behavior.”
Ingersole said the foundation runs year round but they focus mainly on their winter session, because kids are taking advantage of the many other opportunities they have during the summer.
Although all of the club’s courts are outdoors, Ingersole said they have 10 courts that they cover during the winter.
Part of the foundation’s function is to teach tennis to children in wheelchairs once a week. Last Wednesday the club ran an exhibition with eight elite athletes from the wheelchair community teaching tennis to those children. “It was very inspiring,” said Ingersole. “We got tons of donations that day.”
You can learn more about the foundation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Reach Editor Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, email@example.com or @JonathanSCronin.