Touch of Tennis returns
Program for anyone with special needs still a hit after 18 years
LOWER GWYNEDD » The 18th Annual “Touch of Tennis” program got started Wednesday June 28 at the Gwynedd Mercy University tennis courts.
The free, volunteer special needs clinic will take place every Wednesday from 6:30-7:45 p.m. through August 2.
Gwynedd Mercy’s men’s and women’s tennis coach Jim Holt Jr. is the Director and Founder of the program that is open to all ages for anyone with any special needs.
“I didn’t think there was much out there as far as adaptive tennis for people with special needs,” Holt said. “I have my masters in Special Ed. and I’m a teacher at Wordsworth Academy – a school for students that have special needs – and I said to myself, ‘I’m coaching, if anybody can start this, it’s probably me.’”
The program teaches the basics of tennis — like teaching the athletes how to stand. It’s about much more than that, however.
“It’s more than tennis,” Holt said. “Honestly, half of it is probably socialization. It gives them a social outlet. It’s really three-fold. Learn the game of tennis number one. Number two it’s a social outlet. Number three – get some exercise. Get them out there moving. Some of these kids don’t have a lot of opportunities for programs like this – especially free programs.”
The program has grown exponentially, according to Holt. It started at Hatboro-horsham High School, moved to Upper Dublin and now is at Gwynedd Mercy. Holt said the program had 60 athletes and 26 volunteers register — but it seemed like more people on Gwynedd Mercy’s five courts for the program’s first
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Zack Seiders, 6, hits a ball over the net. This is his second year attending Touch of Tennis and, as he is on the younger side of participants, he is given plush balls to start off with.