YLC BLOG: USTA SOCAL PARTNERS WITHYOUTH LEADERSHIP COUNCIL | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
JACK AND JILL OF AMERICA
JACK AND JILL OF AMERICA
APRIL 26, 2023 | MADELINE POSNER
YLC BLOG: USTA SOCAL PARTNERS WITH JACK AND JILL OF AMERICAUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
APRIL 26, 2023
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USTA Southern California hosted the kickoff event to its collaboration with Jack and Jill of America on Sunday, February 26. Occurring at Griffith Club, Los Angeles, in celebration of Black History Month, the event featured a luncheon, meet and greet, tennis activities, and more.
Extending further than the SoCal level, the relationship with Jack and Jill is an official USTA National partnership. According to USTA National, it launched in May, initiating various events in specific cities and promoting tennis-related educational efforts. From June on, the program also opened up introductory tennis clinics to youth and adults.
Jack and Jill of America is a national nonprofit leadership organization, founded in 1938 by African-American mothers. Its goal is to nurture future leaders through initiatives including leadership development and volunteer service.
The event in L.A. gave kids the opportunity to connect and play tennis together. Kamau Murray, best known as Sloane Stephens’ coach, also gave an hour long informative Q&A session. Acting as moderator, Gabrielle Clark sat center stage with Murray. Clark is a two time NCAA Division III Singles champion and the first African-American woman to win an individual singles NCAA championship title.
“The Q&A was very significant as it provided an opportunity for the Jack and Jill attendees to not only see more incredible representation of the African-American community in tennis, but to also ask questions about navigating the world of tennis while Black,” said USTA SoCal Community Tennis Department member Shania Hernandez. “I think having people who can relate to your experiences and offer words of advice or encouragement is really important for creating a sense of community in a sport like tennis, which is often seen as more of a “solo” sport,” she explained.
Two Youth Leadership Council members from the Community Service committee — Halle Parker and Milo Whitehead — were invited to attend the event as guests.
“I felt that the Jack and Jill organization created an environment in which children of color were inspired to imagine the possibilities within the sport of tennis,” said Parker. She added, “Kamau Murray and Gabrielle Clarke, among other positive role models, made me feel even more motivated to serve the community and introduce the sport to the next generation.”
The Youth Leadership Council looks forward to more events to come in the partnership between USTA and Jack and Jill. The Griffith Club event was only the start of something sure to flourish in the future as the partnership develops and creates more opportunities for players across USTA sections.
“This partnership is exciting to me because it’s opening more doors for kids who may have otherwise felt like tennis was never an option for them,” said Hernandez.
She continued, “That’s what the Community Tennis Department is all about – growing the game of tennis for all!”