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DURHAM, N.C. -- Members of the Duke women’s tennis team recently held two tennis clinics at local elementary schools. With the assistance of Playworks, an organization that promotes active lifestyles of children through play at recess, students at Spring Valley Elementary and Sandy Ridge Elementary learned the game of tennis. The trips mark the second consecutive year the Blue Devils traveled to an elementary school to hold such events.

“[The clinic] was brought to [the students’] recess time as a new game of the week,” Duke women’s tennis team member and senior Hanna Mar said. “They didn’t have experience with tennis. We just wanted to do something that would show them tennis and still be entertaining. Something that was new and different to them and something that they could spend the time doing that they would really enjoy.”

Although the elementary school students played tennis during the clinic, the message the Duke student-athletes were conveying was that living an active lifestyle is an important aspect in staying healthy and that sports such as tennis act as an avenue for healthy living.

“To have the kids see sports and what a great, enriching, enjoyable experience hopefully will spark an interest,” Mar said. “It doesn’t have to be tennis, but anything to stay with athletics through middle school and high school.”

In addition to teaching students about active lifestyles, the time spent at the elementary school allows the students to interact with college student-athletes and learn more about the college experience.

“It’s also an opportunity for the kids to just see college students and athletics,” Mar said. “The kids are really out going. They ask questions. They want to know what it’s like.”

The benefit of clinics such as these reaches beyond the elementary school students, however. Mar believes the opportunity for Duke student-athletes to go out into the community and share their experiences provides perspective and a form of release that is necessary when competing at the collegiate level.

“It gives us a chance to get out there and see the community of Durham instead of always staying here at Duke and focusing on that, which we get caught up in a lot,” Mar said. “It’s really good to see the outside. It’s something different. Something we can all do together. It’s a lot of fun for us to share our sport. Sometimes with competition and always playing matches, that’s what tennis becomes, just competition. Sometimes you can forget why tennis is fun if you’re always thinking about the pressure of winning and losing. This is why tennis is fun for us, when we see other people and how it brings them joy.”

Mar, appreciative of Playworks’ efforts in organizing the clinic, hopes the organization will continue to collaborate with future Duke women’s tennis teams.


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