2009 Grassroots Champions of the Year: Lisa Stone & Susan Chambers
Local tennis heroes are all around us. They run programs in parks, they form CTAs, they run leagues and mixers. In Cobb County, Ga., Lisa Stone and Susan Chambers, both of Marietta, formed a program for schoolchildren that has taken off. And for 2009, both women are RSI’s Grassroots Champions of the Year.
In 2008, Stone’s son wanted to play tennis for his middle school, but there was no team (in fact, the school district doesn’t have, or support, any sports for elementary- or middle-school kids). That set Stone in motion — she contacted the USTA to see what could be done, and started networking in the community, and she formed a Junior Team Tennis program for grades 6 to 8.
“We started in fall of 2008 at four middle schools and figured we’d get 10 kids from each school,” says Stone (at left above). “It turned out we got 180 kids, and wound up with 16 teams — everything from kids who had never picked up a racquet before to tournament players. We ran a six-week season and the kids had a total blast.” The next year, the league doubled in size, to 380 students from 11 schools, making up 32 teams.
Then, in the fall of 2009, Chambers got involved. “I asked Lisa if there was an elementary-school league, because I wanted my son to play tennis with his classmates,” she says. “There wasn’t, and I realized we should start one.” In its first season for grades 2 to 5, there were about 135 kids on 16 teams from eight schools. The kids use the QuickStart Tennis format and all get together at one time and place on Friday afternoons.
“This league is probably the most amazing thing I’ve seen,” says Karen Zuidema, the tennis service rep for Georgia. “There needs to be more people like Lisa and Susan.”
Tips for success
- Use all the resources you can — local, state, sectional, national.
- Kids love the idea of playing on teams, with their classmates.
- Network with friends and other tennis players, for suggestions and help.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.