Mary Frances Smith, a Tennis For Fun athlete.

The River Hills Country Club located in Valrico has welcomed the Tennis For Fun clinics, which started this month on January 8. These clinics are held every Saturday until the end of April. Tennis For Fun provides a free tennis clinic for athletes with special needs of all ages the opportunity to have fun playing tennis, to socialize with each other and to learn basic skills.

Judy Moore, national director of Tennis For Fun, shared her thoughts about the organization.

“Tennis For Fun broadens the horizons of people whose horizons are limited,” Moore said.

Since Tennis For Fun’s establishment in September of 2000, when only 15 players attended, more than 300 athletes have participated.

Tennis For Fun is the official Special Olympics training site. The athletes in the program can compete in the Special Olympics. Tennis For Fun has a total of 12 locations. In Hillsborough County, the River Hills Country Club will be Tennis For Fun’s sixth location.

Walkiria Soares, volunteer coach of Tennis For Fun’s River Hills Country Club location, explained how she became involved with it.

“In 2017, I was looking for a program to fit my son’s needs and I was made aware of the Tennis For Fun’s Brandon location, which is run by Judy Moore at High 5, Inc.,” Soares said. “I proposed the idea to the general manager and chief operating officer, Bob Swezey, who supported it wholeheartedly,” she stated.

The program is run by volunteers and tennis experience is not needed. Moore mentioned that having volunteers at their clinics is critical and more are always needed. Students who volunteer can earn community service hours, which can go toward Bright Futures Scholarships.

The next River Hills Country Club clinic will occur on Saturday, January 22 at 3 p.m.

For more information, visit http://tennisforfun.org. To sign up, text or call Soares at 972-256-6351. It is located at 3943 New River Hills Pkwy. in Valrico. For questions about the program or volunteering, contact Judy Moore 417-3751.

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Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.