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Gear Up With Buddy Up!

April 14, 2016 12:26 PM

USTA Tennessee is proud to be a continued partner with the Murfreesboro Buddy Up program.

Buddy Up Tennis, Inc. is a high energy adaptive tennis and fitness program for children and young adults with Down Syndrome. Buddy Up Athletes range in age anywhere from five to forty-five and volunteer Buddies must be at least thirteen years old. There are also professional coaches who work with each level of Athlete in developing their tennis skills and monitoring fitness activities.

The goal of each session is to have fun while learning to play tennis, improve physically, develop socially, and grow emotionally. Sessions are 90 minutes long, beginning with 30 minutes of fitness activities that strengthen the Athletes' core muscle groups and incorporate the ABC' s of tennis. Specifically Buddy Up works to improve agility, balance, coordination and cardiovascular health. Coaches then provide 60 minutes of tennis instruction implementing the USTA 10 and under guidelines.

"Buddy Up Tennis, Inc. has impacted Rutherford and surrounding counties in several ways," Buddy Up's Ronda Hawkins shares. "We have never had an adaptive tennis program in this area tailored to meet the needs of children and young adults with Down Syndrome. Since our launch in 2012 we have had the pleasure of introducing tennis to more than twenty families. Additionally, because we use volunteer Buddies to work with each Athlete, we have seen many in our tennis and local communities step up to serve... Our diverse group of Buddies range in age from middle to high school, as well as college and up." Hawkins also notes that the strong friendships and fun fostered between the Buddies, Athletes and Coaches drives the success and continued growth of the program.

Tennis is an expensive sport, Hawkins adds, and Buddy Up Tennis must charge its Athletes to cover operating expenses. However, the objective of this program is to partner with a few key corporate sponsors to provide sufficient charitable contributions so that all of the Buddy Up Athletes can participate regardless of financial status.

Murfreesboro Buddy Up just received their 2016 USTA Southern Special Populations grant.

"The grant will help us continue to offer our program to existing scholarship Athletes," Hawkins says, "as well as reach out to new Athletes who may be interested in joining us. We provide each Athlete with a racquet and tee shirt, as well as continue to invest in nets, balls and other tennis/fitness equipment.  Because of generous charitable donors such as the USTA Southern Special Populations grant, we expect to see continued growth in 2016 and hope to have some of our Athletes compete in the Tennessee's Special Olympics in the future."

Ronda, thank you for all that you do to spread tennis and make the world a brighter place. We are thrilled to see what 2016 has in store for our Tennessee Buddies!