Abilities Tennis of NC, serving athletes with intellectual disabilities, recently hosted its 9th Annual Winter Chill tournament at NC State University. Over 70 athletes from around the state traveled to participate in this event on Saturday, December 3rd at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
The Winter Chill tournament featured full court and short court doubles play for the athletes as well as a clinic, and player interaction with the NC State women’s tennis team. Lou Welch, Abilities Tennis Executive Director, stated just how important this event is to everyone involved.
“Winter Chill gives our athletes the opportunity to compete in an exciting venue where they can come together and socialize, exercise, and show off the tennis skills they have been honing all year long,” Welch said. “Having the NC State women’s tennis team acting as referees, instructing them and then playing with them, is a big drawing card for this event. It is certainly one of our highlight events of the year.”
The NC State women’s tennis team has been involved with this event since the inaugural Winter Chill tournament in 2007. Anna Rogers (Center), a freshman on the team, said she was honored to give back to the community and be a part of this event.
“When my coach told us about this event, I got so excited because I love helping out…We’re having so much fun, there’s so much energy, there is Christmas music, I just love it,” Rogers said. “This event is important because we need to make people aware of organizations like [Abilities Tennis], because not everybody knows about it or not everybody gets involved. But when people come out to these events, they really love it and they embrace it. I feel like everyone would be happy making these kids happy.”
When asked about her favorite part of the event, Rogers didn’t hesitate. “I like reffing a lot! You get to cheer [the athletes] on, and say good try or good shot. Then when they smile, it just makes me happy”.
In addition to the NC State women’s tennis team, over 60 volunteers from local High Schools and other organizations, along with those who show up yearly, came to assist with activities throughout the day.
“Each year we have many of the same volunteers showing up because they know the heartwarming affect it has on all who attend,” Welch said. “There is a growing community surrounding these athletes, cheering for them on the court and off. We, the supporters, leave the event each year feeling a sense of peace and a renewal of focus on what is truly important.”
Abilities Tennis holds tournaments and clinics throughout the year. For more information about this organization and its efforts, please visit www.atanc.org.
Article courtesy of USTA North Carolina. You can read the complete article and see additional photographs by clicking here.