Tennis association forms

Published 9:15 am Friday, April 1, 2011

Western Tidewater Tennis Association President Sheryl Raulston presents used tennis racquets to Franklin High School player Donqua Thomas. -- Frank Davis | Tidewater News


FRANKLIN—Local tennis pro Ken Cussick has been working behind the scenes to form the Western Tidewater Tennis Association.

The group’s organization came to a head when Cussick set up an organizational meeting in February and invited Michelle Wood from the U.S. Tennis Association and director of Community Tennis in Virginia to talk to local tennis enthusiasts.

From there, another meeting was arranged and interest grew. Local tennis advocate Sheryl Raulston was elected president of the group.

WTTA was formed to promote and develop the growth of tennis for Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

The group kicked off activities at the YMCA with a Quick Start tennis tournament for those age 6-11. The program uses a play format with shorter nets and courts, and a foam ball. This allows younger children to have instant success and fun playing tennis. Trophies were awarded and a pizza lunch was held.

Also in March, the WTTA collected used tennis racquets from members and donated them to the Franklin High School boys’ tennis team. In April, WTTA will have a free high school tennis clinic. Cussick, who has been teaching tennis at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA and Cypress Cove County Club to adults and youth, will provide instruction.

For May, an adult tennis social is planned. Area tennis enthusiasts will be invited.

The Quick Start program will be expanded to lower schools through the USTA School In-Service program. WTTA will sponsor interested schools by paying for their USTA member fee. Members will work with USTA and arrange free tennis training for schools.

As part of this School In-Service program, the school will be provided with two free Quick Start tennis nets, 20 shorter tennis racquets, two dozen foam tennis balls and a USTA curriculum guide. By getting started in lower schools, WTTA hopes young people can learn skills as they progress through high school and beyond.

Other plans include sponsoring additional tennis clinics, tournaments and summer camps for various age levels that will include weeklong tennis camps.

Lastly, the group would like to take children and adults to the Legg Mason pro tennis tournament in Washington, D.C., in August.

WTTA is a non-profit organization and will be applying for tax-exempt status. The group is accepting individual and corporate sponsorships for tennis events.

Anyone interested in joining will need to pay a $5 annual membership fee. Brochures are available at the YMCA.

Contact Raulston at 635-9820 or Cussick at 287-6678 if interested in joining or supporting the WTTA.