There’s no doubt that sports are incredibly important in Northern Michigan but tennis in particular is on the rise and making a positive impact in schools and students throughout the state.
“Prior to three to five years ago, there just wasn’t the amount of courts, there wasn’t the accessibility. So, I had you know, kids had to go to country clubs or to golf courts or places where there were courts available to people and now, I feel like in Northern Michigan, communities and schools are doing a better job just providing access for students,” said Glen Lake P.E. teacher, Jamie Robinson.
Through the help of the United States and Northern Michigan Tennis Association, schools like Glen Lake have been able to add a tennis program and are seeing a positive response.
“We went to the SHAPE conference where P.E. teachers all collaborated and Net Generation was there, which is a part of the United States Tennis Association. With that, we found out that these two entities actually have grants that we could reach out for. So around 2020, they sent us a beautiful bag and all of these rackets, which is really what propelled tennis, because we didn’t have the courts at that point and we didn’t have any equipment, and getting into it could be expensive. So this year they sent us 24 brand new rackets. They sent us a case of balls and two portable nets, which we’ll use in the winter to continue our racket sport. So not just tennis, but pickleball and badminton. So, to continue that love for racket sports and lifelong sports,” said Robinson.
Jamie says that incorporating tennis into her physical education program is helping students excel in other areas of their life.
“I mean, really basic like hand-eye coordination, you know, following through for the rest of their life, but also just a love for being outdoors and being active. More kids are being active because of tennis and they’re able to access it because the USTA and the Northern Michigan Tennis Association have both given us stuff that we need to be able to provide this” Robinson said.
For one Glen Lake freshman, she says tennis has given her an outlet she didn’t realize she needed.
“It really helped me as a mental health output, like just a stress relief thing. I know it’s something I can always just go do competitively or non-competitively with friends just to have that output that I never really had. And I’ve also just never really connected with a sport before. And tennis was the first sport that I properly connected with. So, it’s been a great experience for me so far. Mentally, I just feel a lot less stressed in general, especially in school” Glen Lake Freshman, Imogen Thompson said.
Those who are interested in learning how to apply for grants and grow tennis participation within their school district, you can reach out to your local USTA Midwest representative and learn more here or call (317) 577-5130 for more information.