Summer in the City

Things are certainly heating up this summer as the sun shines down on the courts in Riverdale. Last year, the renovated Arts Courts, courtesy of Chase and the United States Tennis Association, ignited the community’s passion for tennis. We were thrilled to see many new faces across the net, smiling brightly; community members of all ages were ready to pick up a racket and learn the game. Of course, the Midwest winter cooled things off for a few months, but before our tennis shoes collected dust, the signs of spring began to burst around the courts; then, we were in the throes of summer and ready to play!

“When school is out of session, summer tennis camps provide a safe place for kids to come, play, and keep learning,” says Maggie Kelly, Executive Director at Chicago Tennis Patrons (CTP), which has been a long-time supporter of The ACE Project. “Through tennis, kids will build friendships, become socially more confident, and learn many life skills including hard-work, discipline and compassion. Tennis also has the advantage of being a life-long sport that provides an opportunity for players of all ages to develop physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Thanks to funding from CTP, The ACE Project was able to launch a free 6-week tennis camp for local youth in partnership with the Riverdale Park District and XS Tennis. Through this opportunity, beginners and advanced-beginners were able to practice the necessary skills for success while receiving direct feedback and tips from certified tennis professionals. “The ACE Project embodies what CTP champions: providing access to tennis in underserved communities as a way of setting kids up for success both on and off the courts,” says Maggie. “Using tennis as a tool to empower kids will effect positive change in their individual lives as well as in their communities. By partnering with ACE, CTP is helping to provide access to tennis, and transforming lives of kids in Chicago.”

Tennis is a powerful tool that has helped The ACE Project grow support for our mission locally as we have improved access to the sport. The summer, though, is a crucial time for youth to further develop the skills they learned throughout the school year, whether that be the lessons from on or off the court. “The ACE Project has been instrumental in providing instructors, resources, training, and equipment to bring about a social and physical recreational change in the Village of Riverdale and the Riverdale Park District,” says Kendall Parrott, Executive Director at the Riverdale Park District. “The two key words are passion and partnership. From the time I met Susan Klumpner, there was an instant connection to do something that benefits the entire community. As a result, more residents are using our newly renovated tennis courts, we have equipment that the community can utilize, we have expanded our partnerships to include the local daycares and churches as well as connections with the Tennis Program at Chicago State University. All in all, we are a work in progress as we continue to grow and flourish in Riverdale and beyond.”

Though we have worked together to bring the joy of tennis to more lives, the summer sun has not yet set! We need you to shine now by making a donation to support our summer programs for all our ACE-ers, new and returning. CTP has agreed to match up to $2,625, which means that each dollar you donate will be double the impact!

Susan Klumpner