USTA Making an Impact Locally

Goal is to get kids playing

Photo by Cody Tomer Oglebay Tennis Club president Debbie Pickens and USTA Tennis Service Representative Kelle Cunningham are working together to attempt to get more tennis in schools to get more kids playing tennis.

WHEELING — The Oglebay Tennis Club has been an influential part in getting young kids involved in the sport.

With the help of president Debbie Pickens, tennis has grown in the Wheeling area and it’s not done yet.

USTA Tennis Service Representative Kelle Cunningham of the Allegheny Mountain District was on hand during the Jack Dorsey Memorial Senior Open at Oglebay, helping Pickens set up tennis programs for the summer.

Together, their goal is to get more tennis in the local schools and help teachers, coaches and players become more knowledgeable of the sport.

“The USTA is a non-profit organization and one of its goals is to get money and equiptment back to communities,” Cunningham said.

“My role as service rep is to work with communities, parks and recs and clubs to help them start programs or enhance the programs they have.

“Debbie and I work together because the Oglebay Tennis Club is a main force of tennis in Wheeling. Debbie helped me get into the schools down here so we have done in service with all the teachers so all the schools have equipment. Now they can teach it in gym class.

“Hopefully, getting kids more exposed to tennis and having more curriculums and more lesson plans to get the kids to high school will build bench strength for high school teams and get them playing in adult tournaments. That’s our goal.”

There are already plenty of courts in Wheeling open for players of all ages and with the help of Pickens and the USTA, they could be full this summer and for summers to come.

“These are really nice courts here at Oglebay and at Hilltop,” Cunningham said. “There are really nice courts at Wheeling Park and the Bubble, too. There are a lot of options for a small community like this for people to play tennis.

“Debbie is pulling people in herself to have them help her. She is everywhere when it comes to tennis. She has a lot of energy and I can’t keep up with her. I love working with Debbie.”

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