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YMCA of Kanawha Valley to offer free youth tennis lessons

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter

Stonewall Jackson Middle School now has a girls’ tennis team, thanks in large measure to the YMCA of Kanawha Valley’s free tennis lessons, which debuted last summer at the nearby Edgewood Drive tennis courts.

Offered in cooperation with the City of Charleston, the free lessons helped fuel an interest in the sport for the SJMS girls, said Mindy White, director of tennis at the YMCA. White hopes this summer’s free tennis lessons, which start June 12, will resonate with some of the SJMS boys, as wellFor .

“This year, we want to maintain those girls, but also establish a team for the boys,” White said.

The YMCA’s free tennis lessons are back again this summer. Continuing weekdays through Aug. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, the lessons are geared toward children and youth ages 9 through 16. Although the lessons take place on Charleston’s West Side, they are open to youth from anywhere.

To sign up for the first day, June 12, call the YMCA tennis office, 304-340-3533, or send email to

“Last year, we had 65 students, usually 30 per day. We give them half-hour private, individualized tennis lessons,” White said.

The tennis teachers are high school tennis team members from Capital High School, Winfield High and George Washington High.

“One of two coaches from Capital High also help out,” she said.

White said the free tennis lessons are a way to get the tennis courts at the foot of Edgewood Drive used more often, particularly by West Side youth.

“That was our main focus, to help the West Side out,” she said.

To generate interest, the YMCA reached out to the Bob Burdette Center and the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club on the West Side. Youth from as far away as Cross Lanes also signed up for lessons last summer.

“It’s open to anybody in the community.”

At the end of each lesson, the participants get a free lunch.

“And after their eighth lesson, they get a free tennis racket.”

White said a student from the University of Charleston took lessons in the program and was sad when it ended.

“We had become like a family,” White said.

Instilling a love for tennis in young people is rewarding, she said.

Reflecting on last summer’s inaugural event, and looking ahead to this year’s session, White said, “It was a wonderful experience for me. I enjoy getting to know these kids. It gets them off the street and teaches them a lifelong sport.”

For more information about the free tennis lessons, call the YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 304-340-3533, or send email to


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