By Wendy Fee, Junior Leagues Vice President
I’ve always found it interesting to look at before-and-after pictures. Whether it is watching home improvement “fixer upper” shows, or what I find even more fascinating, in watching our kids grow and progress in life. Many may not know that ALTA is over 50 years old and has evolved a great amount since its creation.
As the VP of the ALTA Junior League, I am fortunate to work alongside great friends who have been part of this respected organization from the beginning. One such friend, Angie Boland Baker, decided to volunteer as a Junior coordinator two years ago. Recently, I learned that she and her sister played in the ALTA Junior League as far back as when she was 8 years old. Not only had she been playing ALTA for more than 40 years but also has been captain and co-captain for her many adult teams. Now, as an ALTA coordinator, Baker says it’s rewarding to give back to this organization that offered so much in her life.
It also is gratifying to hear comments from tennis professional, Desmond McLennon, who has been coaching junior players for more than 10 years. He stated, “The past few years have been challenging, but I’ve seen ALTA’s positive mental health impact on my players — both in the boys and girls. ALTA has made kids laugh, smile and sometimes shed a tear, all while boosting self-confidence, respect, and individuality.” McLennon says some of these junior players previously had never considered trying out for their high school tennis team. However, not only did they make the team, but they were captains and led volunteer initiatives in their respective communities. “With hard work and dedication, anything is possible, and I’m proud to see that effort and commitment reflected in my players’ matches with ALTA,” McLennon adds.
On a more personal note, my two sons started playing tennis within the Junior League. Fast forward many years, as they are now 28 and 25 years old and are still active ALTA members. They play in both the Men’s and Mixed Doubles Leagues. To this day, the friendships they made as junior players remain intact. Not only have their court skills improved since playing junior tennis, but the camaraderie and friendships continue as they play on adult teams. Because of their age difference, the two brothers were not able to be on the same juniors team but, as adults, they can play as partners. Another treat is they get an opportunity to play with their father. This advantage in being a member of ALTA is unlike any other sport, one in which you have the privilege to team up with your entire family.
There is so much growth within ALTA today, between the Junior Challenge Ladder, the Wheelchair League, and now the new ALTA Pickleball League, which is expected to start up in July. ALTA truly is for everyone and continues to grow, as we all do.
From experience, I can assure you if you start reaching out to ALTA members, volunteers, team managers, and pros/coaches, there are so many amazing stories to be told. I feel blessed to be a part of such a healthy, flourishing organization.
As Coach McLennon says, “Tennis, as with life, is a journey.” Here’s to continuing on playing and making those wonderful memories!