Serving Off the Court: A Perspective on Healing Through Tennis

By, Deirdre Hughes

As a black woman living in a diverse metropolitan community, I don’t face a daily barrage of overt racism. Instead, I encounter the slow, steady drip of microaggressions and bias that wear on my mind and soul. Regular occurrences like the glares of disdain from my neighbors as I walk in my own neighborhood; Starbucks Barista moving the tip jar when I step up to the counter or the co-worker telling me that racism “isn’t a thing.” My experience, it’s like death by a thousand pin-pricks. 

Our current times have generated high stress and anxiety across the nation, in the local Mid-Atlantic region and around the globe. In the African American community, high blood pressure and diabetes are prevalent; African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, according to the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Studies suggest that these chronic diseases are also linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. Further, research that links experiences of racism with poor mental health is emerging. 

Fortunately, one of my best strategies for combating stressful experiences is tennis.

My tennis story begins on the public tennis courts in Buffalo, N.Y.  My uncle, who is also a tennis player, gave me my first racquet as a Christmas gift when I was in middle school. That following summer, I started learning tennis in a free tennis summer camp sponsored by the Buffalo Department of Parks and Recreation.

My passion for the sport started during those summers. Over the years I played tennis every once in a while. Then in 2011, I started taking lessons again when my job’s wellness benefit covered tennis lessons. Over time, as I saw improvement in my play, I began playing more and more. 

Currently, I am a 3.0 player but I prefer to play at 3.5. I am a singles player but I will play doubles from time to time. I have played on various teams around the Washington, D.C. metro region in addition to playing in USTA Sanctioned tournaments. My biggest tennis accomplishments to date include an undefeated season in 6.0 Mixed Doubles and winning the January 2019 Ladies 3.0 Singles Simkins Indoor NTRP tournament in Greensboro, N.C.  

For me, tennis is an escape and outlet from the daily stresses of my life. Nothing else matters when I step onto a tennis court. From my first strike of the ball, I can feel all my anxiety melt away and my problems temporarily disappear. After I finish playing, I am relaxed and positive, and ready to once again tackle my everyday life.

Tennis also helps my mental acuity. I love the challenge of thinking through a match, problem-solving, self-evaluating, and correcting mistakes. These skills don’t just reside on the tennis court but are skills that I use in my professional life as a marketing manager at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Further, tennis aids in developing mental toughness and resilience. Two very important traits needed to navigate our world.

It’s important not to underestimate the power of tennis. Tennis is unlike any other sport;  a lifelong sport that offers physical and mental benefits. Just read Dr. Jack Groppel’s 34 Reasons to Play Tennis and listen to the webinars he held with us at USTA Mid-Atlantic recently and you’ll gain an understanding of the physical and psychological reasons to play the sport.

While playing tennis cannot solve systemic issues such as racism, it can, however, aid in relieving stress and improving overall health. Tennis can foster connections, communication, and community. Healthy minds and bodies create healthy communities. 

Tennis can help all people  – socially, emotionally, and physically. 

And it is with this very belief USTA Mid-Atlantic works hard to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region for ALL people and communities. Tennis can help as part of a recovery process and the #ServeItForward campaign is in progress to support this effort.

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Resources:

https://www.anxiety.org/black-americans-how-to-cope-with-anxiety-and-racism

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20191204/african-americans-face-unique-mental-health-risks

https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/fitness-and-exercise/tennis#:~:text=Joan%20Finn%20did%20a%20study,other%20athletes%20or%20non%2Dathletes.

https://www.active.com/tennis/articles/five-benefits-of-tennis

https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=18

Serving Off Court: Taste of the Mid-Atlantic with Doukenie Winery

In the Mid-Atlantic, communities are beginning to cautiously reopen and with that comes the hopes for recovery, rebuilding, and a “new normal.” USTA Mid-Atlantic, a 501 (c)3 non-profit, believes tennis will be crucial  to this process and to reconnect communities and people even while social distancing.  In that spirit, we’ve recently launched the #ServeItForward campaign to generate support for tennis in the Mid-Atlantic as part of the recovery process and support our mission and vision for tennis in every community.  

There are many ways to #ServeItForward with USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. One exciting opportunity is virtual wine tasting events we are calling “Taste of the Mid-Atlantic.” 

Taste of the Mid-Atlantic
Taste of the Mid-Atlantic

During these events, you get exclusive access to learn about and taste wines as if you were a special guest at the winery, but you get to do it from home. AND you are helping to #ServeItForward because a portion of the proceeds will be donated to USTA Mid-Atlantic to support our charitable tennis programs.

We’ve partnered with Doukenie Winery in Loudoun County, Va., for the first tasting event.  

General Manager of Doukenie Winery, Sally Travis, is a member of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors and a USTA League player. We caught up with her to talk about the upcoming wine tasting event, tennis, and being involved with USTA Mid-Atlantic.

What drew you to tennis?

I dabbled a bit in High School and returned to tennis eight years ago when my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. I needed a recreational outlet as a distraction from what was happening in our lives. 

I joined Ida Lee tennis center and took lessons. Then I started playing competitively and was recruited to play on a mixed doubles team in Montgomery County, Md. We went to the USTA League Nationals in Arizona! 

Tennis was a lifesaver for me. Tennis creates lasting friendships and a sense of community. 

How did you get involved with the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section?

A few years ago, Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro (Chief Executive Officer at USTA Mid-Atlantic) reached out to me to get involved and serve on the Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors. I served on that committee and then became the Chair. 

Later, I inquired about getting even more involved and serving on the board. 

I enjoy being on the board. I believe in the mission and getting more youth and families involved in the sport. The promotion of children and after school tennis programs are so important.

What do you admire about the work we do at the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section? 

I admire the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section’s after school and youth tennis programs. They are such a great benefit to the community. I also admire the USTA League tennis program in the Section because it is a great way for adults to get involved, find exercise, and establish a community. It is a great outlet for anyone at any level. 

What are your thoughts on how the community can move forward from the pandemic?

It’s a difficult time for everyone. Anything we can do together and collaborate to support both business and USTA Mid-Atlantic is great. 

Let’s switch gears and talk about the Taste of the Mid-Atlantic event. What do you think people should know about Doukenie Winery? What makes it special?

Doukenie is a family-owned farm winery that welcomes families to enjoy our grounds while drinking our wine and we opened in 1995 by George and Nicki Bazaco.

George’s grandmother was named Doukenie and she told him to grow grapes, so that’s what he did! Doukenie Winery has 360 acres and 30 acres under vine.  There are 16 wines on the menu and they are always releasing something different and trying new things. 

If someone is new to wine, what would you tell them when trying wine?

I highly recommend that you try a full tasting at a winery, whenever given the opportunity. 

Here at Doukenie we have seven wines on the tasting menu. Virginia has so many different varietals (wines made from a single grape variety) and there are so many different things wineries are able to do now with wines. Whether it is keeping reds in barrels longer or aging different whites that are in either stainless steel or oak barrels, there are so many ways to make the wine unique.

Top tips for a good tasting experience?

Everything is worth trying once.  It’s all about what you feel about the wine, rather than what someone tells you. Ask questions to your wine tasting educator. Take a sip and see if you like it. When at a tasting, feel free to tell a wine educator what you like and don’t like, and they are sure to help you find something you will enjoy. 

There is no right or wrong; it’s all about what you like and if you enjoy it. Wine is an experience and meant to be enjoyed.  

What is your favorite part about Virginia wine?     

In Virginia, we can grow so many varietals, and so we can make hybrids and many different blends. Because of where we are located, we are able to have a long growing season, and we have such an opportunity to grow so many types of grapes. 

Doukenie Winery has 14 varietals on the property. Despite some of the frost this spring, 2020 looks to be another great year for Virginia wine!

What is the biggest myth you would like to debunk about Virginia wine?

If you haven’t tried it lately, try it because it is better than you remember! 

What are the details about the upcoming event?

Join us Saturday, May 30th! If you haven’t RSVP’ed for the event, do so here! Curbside pickup is available for the wines featured in the event. 

Taste of Doukenie Winery Virtual Tasting Event, Saturday, May 30th, 2020 at 5PM

Bill Travis, Doukenie Tasting Room Manager, will host the event. 

$127 for a 3 bottle package that includes:

2019 Rose

2015 Doukénie Dionysus

2017 Doukénie Chardonnay

To purchase your package and arrange for curbside pickup, please  call 540-668-6464 ext 201 or email orders@doukeniewinery.com

15% of sales will be donated to the USTA Mid-Atlantic to support our charitable community.

After completion of the purchase, virtual meeting event details and tasting tips will be sent via email to all event participants. 

To learn more about Doukenie Winery, please visit: https://www.doukeniewinery.com/

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Serving Off the Court: Kendall McCaughey

Serving Off the Court: Kendall McCaughey

As we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times, our focus is often on meeting the needs of our family members, friends, and neighbors. However, animals living in shelters need love and attention as well during this pandemic. And while news reports suggest a surge in pet adoptions and fostering of animals, experts are quick to note that shelters still have and always will have animals in need.  USTA Mid-Atlantic member Kendall McCaughey decided that she could step in and provide that TLC to our non-human friends.  

We caught up with Kendall to find out more about how she is serving off the court in this unique way

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Where do you live? 

Leesburg, Va.

Tell me about your family.

I am married with two kids. Bryn is 17 and is committed to playing lacrosse at the University of Denver in the Fall. Michael is 20 and a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

How did you get started playing tennis

I played tennis as a youth and played competitively in high school.

I got back into tennis as an adult 13 years ago and I’ve played quite a bit on lots of teams.

Do you play on any tennis teams or in tournaments?

I did play on lots of teams. The biggest highlight was placing 3rd at the USTA National Tournament for 8.0 mixed doubles.

Where do you play tennis? 

I play mostly in my neighborhood.

Tell me about how you are serving off the court.

 I walk dogs about once a week at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in Aldie, Va.

How did you get started? 

I went online and signed up at FOHA.org. Then I went through training which takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

Why did you decide to volunteer

These animals are confined to small shelter spaces. FOHA needs volunteers to give them the opportunity to improve their quality of life through exercise and positive human interactions like snuggling!

What’s your favorite part of helping? 

I feel fortunate to provide time to these animals who desperately need love and attention.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get involved with helping during this time? 

This is a great time to get involved! There is a need for people to help walk and interact with animals in the shelter. It is a positive, socially distanced activity that gives tremendously needed attention to these sweet animals who are surrendered or abused through no fault of their own!

As the recovery process begins, tennis has the power to rebuild the community and we continue to be inspired by so many of you – the tennis players, parents, and fans out there, giving back and helping out during the pandemic in many different ways. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community.  

Let us know how you or your tennis friends #ServeItForward by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com

Evelyn Header_1170x585

Serving Off the Court: Evelyn Schroedl

At 102 years old, USTA Mid-Atlantic donor Evelyn Schroedl proves that not only is tennis a lifelong sport that can be played at nearly every age, but how supporting tennis can have a lifelong positive impact that can live on for all generations. 

A Baltimore, Md., native, Evelyn was introduced to tennis when her brother-in-law gave her a tennis racquet. Hitting the ball back and forth across the street with him sparked an interest in the sport. It wasn’t until 1997, when she retired from the workforce, that she started taking tennis lessons. Evelyn says “I always wished I started much earlier.”

Over the years Evelyn would go on to play on several teams including a successful mixed doubles team. Currently, Evelyn plays doubles at the Northeast Regional Recreation Center (NRRC) near her home in Parkville, Md. 

What Evelyn loves most about tennis is the social aspect and meeting so many different people. For example, once, while at a museum food court in Washington, D.C., she sat at a table with two ladies who excitedly exclaimed, “We know who you are, we play tennis with you!” While Evelyn didn’t immediately recognize them, she reflects on how tennis connects you with so many people that you often find you know someone everywhere you go, even in large metropolitan areas like Baltimore and D.C. Tennis creates a more connected community.

Knowing first hand the positive benefits of tennis and the vital community the sport provides for players of every age, Evelyn is a champion for increasing access to the sport. However, over the years Baltimore lost many of its beloved tennis courts – the very places where people can learn the sport and connect with one another. Now, there are only a handful of places left to play. The impact of the loss of courts is felt the most in underserved communities across the city because it is one less opportunity for adults and youth to have a safe place to play, de-stress and come together. 

Upset by the dwindling amount of courts in the Baltimore area Evelyn went into action. 

First, she donated a new tennis facility to her alma mater and former employer, Goucher College. In 2019, Goucher broke ground on The Evelyn Dyke Schroedl ’62 Tennis Center. Twelve new, outdoor tennis courts will replace the eight that had been there and the courts will be the home to the Goucher College Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams and will be open to the surrounding community for public use.

Second, Evelyn donated to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. She knew that by giving to the USTA Mid-Atlantic, she was helping communities in the region like Baltimore, enhance lives through tennis, and that her donation supports increased access to the sport for all. 

When asked why she donated, Evelyn simply replies “because I could.”

While the COVID- 19 Pandemic has us sidelined, Evelyn is no stranger to situations like these. She survived the Spanish Flu in 1918 and looks at the current COVID pandemic as a nice break from everyday life. 

“I am not unhappy about the quarantine; I am very happy because I am doing things I have not done in a long time!” Evelyn spends her time reading, sewing, and watching many old movies. However, Evelyn, like the rest of us in the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community, is eagerly awaiting getting back on the courts.

Evelyn is the essence of “serving off the court,” selfless acts that will impact a community and sport that she adores.

Click here to find out how you too can support USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization to make an impact on our region through the power of tennis.

Diego Tran Rosado_1

Serving off the Court: Diego Tran Rosado

As social distancing continues, teenagers find themselves dealing with issues such as completing school online, lack of extracurricular activities, and of course missing spending time with their friends. Additionally, with the suspension of activities such as tennis, many find that they may have extra time on their hands. One USTA Mid-Atlantic member and junior tennis player decided to put his spare time to good use. Deigo Tran Rosado and his dad, USTA member Dao Tran regularly volunteer their time delivering meals and groceries for Corona Aid 757, and Southeastern Food Bank.

We caught up with Diego to find out more about him and how he and his dad are serving off the court. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Where do you live now?

Diego: We currently live in Virginia Beach, VA

Tell me about your family?

My dad is American and my mom is Spanish. My sister and I were both born in Spain. 

I grew up in Malaga, Spain. I have Spanish and US citizenship.

We moved to the United States because my sister wanted to finish high school here and then head to college. We moved here last July 2019 and we attend Princess Anne High School.

Diego Rosado

How did you get your start in tennis?

After I quit soccer and didn’t want to do a summer camp, my dad told me I had to find another sport. So he took me out to the tennis court since he loves tennis. I was 7 years old that summer. I’ve stayed with it since. 

Currently, I train at a club and with a private coach and with my dad. I started playing tournaments on weekends when I was 9 years old.

How long have you been playing?

9 years

Where do you usually play?

Cape Henry Racquet Club

Diego Tran Rosado

Do you play on teams or in tournaments?

Yes, JTT at Old Dominion University with Jennifer Toomey’s team. I play individually at different USTA tournaments in Virginia and North Carolina.

Tell me about how you are serving off court?

My dad and I are helping CoronaAid757 and Southeastern Food Bank by making deliveries to seniors, those in financial need and in quarantine.

We deliver meals 2-3 times a week depending on days we are not busy with school work and have been delivering since mid-March.

Why did you decide to volunteer your time?

My dad has volunteered before and told me how rewarding it was many times. He did it when he was at the university with Rotaract and other local organizations back in Los Angeles. So whenever he has time he would look to volunteer. 

Then when we started seeing people (and cars in long lines) on TV standing in line for food kitchens we wondered what about people who cannot leave their homes like seniors and those who are in quarantine or those who didn’t even have a car and take buses that may need food or help. We wanted to help these people who are isolated and cannot even go out.

How did you get started?

We wanted to help in some way locally but weren’t sure what we could do. So we did research and found CoronaAid757 on Facebook and later found the Southeastern Food Bank on Google. Both needed drivers to make deliveries. Since we can volunteer the days and hours we are free, we decided to sign up and help.

What’s your favorite part of making deliveries?

It’s rewarding to see the look on the recipient’s faces when they receive their packages and meals, knowing that we’re helping in some way. We’re all in this together and no one should be forgotten. It helps you stay grounded and humble and grateful.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to volunteer during this time?

Organizations always need volunteers. It doesn’t take much but it means a lot for those in need. If you have time and transportation, just reach out and ask how you can help, no matter your experience, skills or background, it’s easy as that. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic is proud of all of our members who are serving the community during this time of crisis. Let us know how you or your tennis friends are going above and beyond for others and making a difference during the coronavirus pandemic by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com

Click here to find out how you can support USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization to make an impact on our region through the power of tennis.