By Sophia Ricco and Meng Yuan
The World Gym Community Tennis Program, a non-for-profit organization, started to raise money for new, need-based sports scholarships that could benefit up to fifty children.
The earnings will go towards scholarships which will benefit children who can’t afford to play the sport but have a passion for it, Tito Perez, the founder of the program and tennis director at World Gym East Setauket, said. The program, which began November 5th, allows kids from grades K through 8 to attend 10 tennis sessions at discounted rates.
“We are trying to make tennis more affordable, and we want to see more kids playing tennis,” Perez said. “There are two ways we can work on that. We can either give them money or sometimes we can work with the club to give them a discount.”
The regular price for tennis beginners is usually $20 to $ 25 an hour, but those who choose to take the program can save up to $15 for each class, Philip Monticciolo, a volunteer tennis coordinator at World Gym, said.
“This allows kids who come here to see if they like it and you don’t have to pay a lot of money to start and play,” Santiago Cristobal, whose two kids have been playing tennis for a few years in World Gym, said. “It’s a good starting point. Sometimes it’s costlier to sign up for the whole year, but if you just come for a few weeks and see if you like it, it’s good.”
The Word Gym tennis program, along with other programs in Long Island have applied techniques by USTA Eastern Long Island in their new initiative called the Net Generation.
“It goes red ball, orange ball, green, and then yellow ball, which makes it much easier for children under 10 to get involved,” Jonathan Klee, President of USTA Eastern Long Island said. “This is because the court size is smaller, the nets are smaller, they are playing with foam balls instead of the conventional yellow balls. So children are finding it much easier to play and be competitive at an early age.”
The father of four kids, Cristobal started playing tennis about two years ago when his children heard about the tennis program. He has found that tennis is a sport that allows him to make and maintain solid friendships with other players.
“It’s a sport that you can play in a social way, and it doesn’t have to be competitive,” Cristobal said.
It also promotes a fun and healthy lifestyle for players from all different ages, Cristobal emphasized.
“We’ve seen additional uptake across the board, as far as junior tennis and adult league tennis,” Klee said. “We think that tennis is only increasing in numbers on Long Island.”
World Gym had held a tennis festival about a month ago to attract people to come to join the program, Monticciolo said.
“We don’t advertise it cause we don’t have a budget obviously,” Misha Monticciolo, who has been coaching at the tennis program for two years, said. “Everything’s through kinda word of mouth and Facebook and social media. But hopefully it will grow as people tell each other.”