Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center: Over Fifty Years of Improving Lives through Tennis and Education

What do tennis, college scholarships and good health have in common? They all have a place at the all-inclusive Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center, where the organization addresses, says Executive Director Toni Wiley, "the staggeringly low academic success rates, poor health and low physical activity levels of many families in our community."

Boston's Blue Hill Corridor is the community Sportsmen's works within, but they welcome the Greater Boston community as well. Founded in 1961 by a core group of committed tennis players who wanted to improve the well-being of youth, their mission, notes Wiley, "is to build leaders on the court, in the classroom and in the greater community by providing academic, wellness and social development programs alongside recreational and competitive tennis instruction for youth and adults." The belief is that tennis and educational guidance together with good health "opens up doors for youth to include college scholarships," says Wiley.

The Learning Center is the after-school educational component of the organization. Goals are to improve test scores and participation in the classroom; foster public speaking, leadership and the setting of goals; and provide life skills, motivation and persistence for college entry and a successful college life. Wiley describes the Center's activities: "Activities include small group academic instruction; individualized tutoring for all grade levels; summer camp featuring academic, enrichment, and fitness activities; college and career readiness; and SAT tutoring for middle- and high-school students."

The organization has changed over the five decades since it began, but tennis continually remains a core component of its programs. Serving over 300 children ages 5 and greater in clinics for all skill levels, "We focus on building the technical fundamentals, basic motor skills and athletic capabilities that prepare players for competitive tennis and other sports," explains Wiley. "Known throughout the country for developing high-performing tennis players and for increasing diversity amongst competitive junior players, Sportsmen's is the only agency in New England ever to have been commended for multicultural excellence by the United States Tennis Association (USTA)."

Sportsmen's hosts numerous annual tennis tournaments for adults and kids with regional New England players. Also focusing on parents of the kids that attend and hundreds of other area adults, Sportsmen's also offers free community tennis, wellness screenings, and many community events. In conjunction with the Boston Police Department, Volley Against Violence, "brings youth from all over Boston to Sportsmen's for weekly free tennis, life skills lessons and mentoring with Sportsmen's coaches and Boston Police officers," Wiley states.

In June of 2015, Sportsmen's new expanded facility opened its doors. This two-story health, wellness and education center allows the organization to double their capacity and be better equipped to help kids and adults increase their health and academic capabilities. This new Brigham and Women's Center for Community Wellness is a shared space to give health, wellness and learning classes.

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