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Tennis and Tutoring “The Perfect Match”

On Monday, June 7, 2010 Community Partners including Utah Tennis Association joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker in the Open House and Dedication of the remodeled old tennis house at Liberty Park that was named the Desiree and Travis Bastian Learning Center and home of the newly established Salt Lake City Tennis & Tutoring Program. 
The 2003 with the improvements and construction of the new Calvin D. Nelson tennis house at Liberty Park Linda Vincent, Executive Director of the Utah Tennis Association and Cal Nelson founder of Friends of Liberty Park Tennis and major financial donor for the improvements at Liberty Park Tennis Center petitioned the city to not tear down the old tennis house as they felt that the structure was still in good condition and if remodeled inside could be serviceable again and used for other purposes including the idea of making it a learning center that would help underserved kids who lived in Salt Lake City especially in those areas close to Liberty Park. 
The Salt Lake City T&T program is modeled after the East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring Program or (EPATT) on the campus of Stanford University which has been impacting the lives of inner city youth in East Palo Alto, California since 1988.  A delegation from Salt Lake including Judge Andrew Valdez, UTA staff members Linda Vincent Fritz Heinecke, Liz Grayston and Dan Johnson from Chevron who sponsored the trip were fortunate to have been able to visit the program and meet with the EPATT staff and upon returning began to assembly the group of community partners that would become the “TEAM”.   Utah Tennis Association, Utah Junior Tennis Foundations, Liberty Park Tennis Center, Friends of Liberty Park, Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office of Education Partnership, Salt Lake School District, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake, University of Utah Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, Third District Juvenile Court, Scott Matheson Jr., Jennifer Stassburg T&T Coordinator, the Desiree & Travis Bastian Memorial Fund,  Dan Johnson and CHEVRON. 
The community partners had a vision and dream that some day a similar type program like EPATT could also be implemented here in Salt Lake City.  With the financial help and support of CHEVRON who made the T&T program possible and the amazing group of community partners who believed and shared in the vision and the generous contribution from the Friends of Liberty Park Tennis and the Desiree and Travis Bastian Memorial Fund who provided the funds for the renovation and gave the Tennis and Tutoring program a home. 
“The Tennis & Tutoring Program would not have been possible without the shared vision and strong community partnerships we have been fortunate to have had.  This has been an emotional and rewarding journey and our association never could have accomplished this on our own. I have experienced first hand how the power of partnerships -can have a positive impact on a community and know that we are making a difference in the lives of youth who are involved in the Tennis & Tutoring program.” Linda Vincent

The T&T program has been in existence now for the past two years with the launch of the Pilot Program in September of 2008, but the first official Tennis and Tutoring session in the newly remodeled class room was held this past winter & spring with 12 - 3rd & 4th Grade students from Lincoln Elementary enrolled in the program.   Created as an after school intervention program for youth the main elements and goal of the program are to help raise the academic achievement level of the participants with One on One Tutoring, but tennis is also an important component and helps raise kids optimism and self-esteem, and helps with tactical thinking and development of positive personality characteristics.  Tennis also teaches good sportsmanship, promotes a healthy lifestyle, discipline, social skills and exercise, but most of all, its fun!   Students attend tennis lesson Tuesday and Thursdays from 3-4pm at Liberty Park Tennis Center and then work with a volunteer tutor for an hour and half following the tennis.  The tutors are students from the University of Utah Lowell Bennion Community Service Center and Amera reads program.   Liberty Park Tennis Director, Debbi Robb has been instrumental in providing leadership, Tennis instruction  and donated court time for the program and stated the program plans to expand to 24 students in the fall.  
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Utah Tennis Association Execuitive Director, Linda Vincent.
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