Thursday, April 11, 2024

Come Play: Women’s Tennis Association and Morgan Stanley Give Back to Grow the Game

The joy was palpable and the laughter contagious. Some of the world’s top-ranked professional tennis players, Special Olympians, and volunteers from Morgan Stanley came together at the Barnes Tennis Center to experience an afternoon of tennis at the San Diego Open Women’s Tennis Tournament on Sat., Feb. 25. See the joy for yourself in this 1-minute video about the event.

Scheduled so that it aligned with the first day of qualifying rounds, Come Play‘s Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) initiative presented by Morgan Stanley teamed up with Special Olympics to bring tennis to youth with intellectual disabilities. Come Play’s goal is to reach communities and groups that traditionally have little access to the sport. The initiative encourages youth and especially girls to lead healthy and productive lives on and off the court.

Leylah Fernandez , one of the world’s top-ranked players, gives back to share her love of the game at the San Diego Open on Saturday, while ambassador and leader Judy Murray (mother to professional players Andy and Jamie Murray) supports. copyright- Rob Riingen Photography

More Than One and Done

Through Come Play, the WTA has hosted events around the world including in Melbourne, London, New York, and Beijing. In addition to showcasing the beauty of tennis for an afternoon, Come Play provides experiences designed to increase the likelihood that tennis will continue in the communities it engages long after the one-day event ends.

On Saturday, for example, in addition to the event for Special Olympians, the WTA hosted a clinic for coaches and volunteers. During the clinic, attendees learned games and strategies to use when playing tennis with the athletes from Special Olympics. Judy Murray, Come Play’s ambassador who has been described as an “edutainer,” led Saturday’s coaches clinic.

“If you can help them (the coaches and volunteers) to do a better job and motivate them to keep doing what they’re doing, then you’re going to make your sport go further,” said Murray, who believes that too much verbal instruction and technical work too early can kill the joy of the game. “A good demonstration and a fun game will get the job done,” she said. Murray shared that an investment in the coaches and volunteers may be the lynchpin that keeps the momentum for tennis alive within the community.

In addition to clinics for coaches, the WTA and Morgan Stanley provide donations to organizations to support their community’s continued tennis engagement. As an example, on Saturday, WTA’s Come Play presented by Morgan Stanley donated $25,000 to Special Olympics so that the organization can continue to break down barriers to the game of tennis.

Caroline Dolehide, a top ten tennis player in the United States, donated her time to Come Play on Saturday, joining Special Olympians and volunteers from Morgan Stanley. copyright- Rob Riingen Photography

Top-Ranked Players Give Their Time and Learn Lessons Too

Not only were volunteers from Morgan Stanley involved with the event, so too were Leylah Fernandez, Donna Vekic, and Caroline Dolehide, three of the world’s top-ranked players. “I’m a big believer that if you are bringing the world’s top players into an event in the city, then you should use the opportunity to showcase the sport to the wider public,” said Murray. All three players shared the joy that they experienced during the event, and the reminders from the Special Olympians that the game was supposed to be about having fun.

“My partner was amazing. She was always willing to learn and she never gave up when she missed, which was totally awesome,” said Fernandez, the top Canadian player. “I kind of learned a lot from that, too, because tennis brings a lot of lost points but my partner … never got down on herself. (She) always loved doing fist bumps.”

“We invite anyone and everyone to come and play and this initiative helps us do that a little more easily,” said Fernandez.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your racket and get out there and play! Learn more here about Come Play presented by Morgan Stanley.

It was all fun and games at the Come Play event, hosted by the Women’s Tennis Association with supporter Morgan Stanley. Three top-ranked players, Leylah Fernandez, Caroline Dolehide, and Donna Vekic, joined in to spread their love of tennis. copyright- Rob Riingen Photography

Lisa Lamb
Lisa Lamb
Lisa’s passion for sports journalism stems from her experiences playing high school sports and reading great sports journalists, especially those who write about her favorite basketball team, the San Diego State Aztecs. As a professor of mathematics education, she enjoys analyzing data to highlight the statistics that help bring the story to life. Lisa has lived in Coronado for almost 20 years with her husband and son. She loves the friendly neighborhood community and the walkable access to wonderful restaurants and parks.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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