With its origins in Atlanta, Georgia, Agape Tennis Academy has recently sprung up in Southern California in Oxnard and Orange County. Agape is a tennis organization that hopes to spread its message of unconditional love, through the sport. Their mission is to enrich the community through tennis and does so through junior and adult programs for all ages that are low cost and accessible to all.
Agape provides opportunities for juniors from red, orange, and green ball, as well as high performance classes for kids. Despite their wide variety of junior programming, Agape has extremely high return and retention rates. Maria Camberos is the Business Manager of Agape’s Oxnard location and joined the organization a few months ago and has been on a mission to help drive retention. “The goal for us is for the people that come in here to enjoy their time, and that they will come back,” said Camberos.
The core values of the program are engrained in their logo, which is a HEART – Honesty, Excellence, Attitude, Responsibility, and Teamwork – all imbued in the work of Agape and in everything they and their staff do to allow more people to get into tennis. Their red, green, and orange ball programs run three days a week, while their high-performance classes are one day a week. Agape also provides pickleball classes to add to their variety and allow their patrons to delve into other racquet sports as well.
Agape supplements their daily programs with a host of monthly events based on the time of year, such as Valentine’s Day or Spring Break events, so that their kids always have something to look forward to on the horizon. Agape have also hosted USTA tournaments at their Oxnard and Fountain Valley locations, to allow their players to get tournament experience and use what they have learnt at the academy.
Agape’s primary goal isn’t to create elite professional athletes, but more so to foster a love for tennis in their kids and give them the passion to possibly pursue it down the line. “The idea is to go all the way however they want to do it,” explained Camberos. “If it’s just high school, college, or even go pro. We would like to have them to grow in the sport as much as they want to!” To encourage participation and motivate the children, Agape utilizes a system of ‘heart cards’ that players receive when they apply the core values of Agape and demonstrate that in class. “They can get as much as the coaches give them,” she adds. “After class, they can exchange, and we have different type of prizes, candy, and surprises!”
On a larger scale, while it is clear that Agape’s programs are well catered to the community, they do have some barriers to growth that they are always trying to overcome. For example, Maria identified that the condition of the courts they have are not top notch, which is why a lot of their customers are kids on the recreational side, as opposed to higher level juniors and adults. Agape is also always looking for more coaches, as they hope to be able to provide more attention to their kids as their player base increases. Agape offers scholarships to some of their players as well, in the hopes of further bridging the gap between the cost of tennis and the means of the kids who need exposure to sport the most.