Steamboat Springs Middle School student David LaPointe plays tennis during physical education Wednesday morning. The class is part of the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs' Junior Tennis Expansion Initiative.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs Middle School student David LaPointe plays tennis during physical education Wednesday morning. The class is part of the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs' Junior Tennis Expansion Initiative.

Steamboat Springs tennis pros teaching at area schools

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Steamboat Springs Middle School student Ellie Kolvereid plays tennis during physical education Wednesday morning.

— When Loretta Conway and her husband, Bill, started at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, one of Loretta’s first calls was to local schools to see whether she could reinvigorate the Junior Tennis Expansion Initiative.

The initiative is simple in its design: Get into schools and introduce tennis.

“We know the best way to build a relationship with the community is to get into the schools,” Loretta Conway said.

Since the Conways came to the Tennis Center in early November — Bill as the head pro and Loretta as the director of business development — the junior programs have been a major focus.

Conway previously had run similar programs in California as the community director for the United States Tennis Association. She also ran a nonprofit youth tennis program.

In Steamboat, Conway hoped she could help the physical education classes and teach tennis. The schools run racket programs in the spring and were more than willing to allow her in.

With the help of the Tennis Center, the Steamboat Tennis Association and the USTA, Conway will work with teachers at Strawberry Park Elementary, Soda Creek Elementary and Steamboat Springs middle and high schools.

When it’s all said and done, she’ll have worked with more than 1,200 students.

“There is tennis in (physical education) now,” Conway said. “The teachers can do it by themselves, and we have that relationship now.”

Citing a USTA special report on children and tennis, Conway said the benefits of tennis on youth are abundant.

According to the study, of children who play tennis, 82 percent volunteer in their communities and 81 percent said they will attend college. Read the full report here.

Conway also hopes to retain some of the students for youth programs. The STA is offering free beginner junior tennis camps May 18 and 19. Those who are interested can sign up by calling 970-879-8400 or emailing info@10s.com.

“We’re doing it for quite a few reasons,” she said. “We love introducing kids to a sport they may never have (played). It’s one of the very best sports a kid can take up for a variety of reasons.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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