Tennis empowers individuals with Down syndrome

Local group wants to foster inclusiveness in the community

By Alicia Barrera - Multimedia Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - The Down Syndrome Association of South Texas is hosting free tennis lessons for individuals with Down syndrome and their family members ages 4 and up.

The group "Racquets Up!" was founded by an avid tennis player, Lynda Haile, who wanted her grandson, Georgie, to have the same opportunity as other children his age. 

"They have so much to share and they teach us so much of what we are missing in our own lives," said Haile. 

Now almost 6-years-old, Georgie's love for tennis began in the backyard but soon expanded to include others with Down syndrome. With no funding, it's donations and volunteers that make "Racquets Up!" possible and accessible for all involved. In the past, local clubs and organizations have hosted the free tennis lessons as an effort to foster inclusion.

Soeurette Shook-Kelly, owner of Shavano Tennis Park, is the latest sponsor to provide courts for the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas, saying, "It's a remarkable program. I had never interfaced with Down syndrome kids before. They just want to be treated normally and with love."

The free tennis lessons are led by a team of coaches and volunteers with a warmup, drills and proper tennis form. All equipment is included for participants of "Racquets Up!" Those wanting to join are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing.

The next lesson will take place Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, from 4 to 5 p.m. at Shavano Tennis Park, located at 4111 Pond Hill Road. To register visit the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas website.

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