COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A tennis training center tucked just inside the beltway is making its presence known.
Several tennis pros who are currently playing in the Citi Open have trained at the Junior Tennis Champion Center in College Park.
Earlier this week, many youngsters didn’t even let the scorching sun stop them from committing to the love of the game.
Even if you’re not a tennis fan, you can still appreciate and admire what goes into the making of a champion at JTCC.
Dozens of young players have developed into junior and collegiate champions, with some becoming highly ranked pros.
That includes Frances Tiafoe of Hyattsville, who played during this week’s Citi Open.
“I think it’s super cool that we get to see him around here a lot and get to play with him, it makes us feel like we have a chance to be up there one day,” said Stiles Brockett, a 16-year-old tennis player at JTCC.
“It lets me know that just about anybody can do it, he worked, he grinded, he got to where he is so I can work, I can grind and the goal is to get up there too,” said Cyrus Mahjoob, also a 16-year-old tennis player at JTCC.
While the tennis training center makes efforts to invest in youngsters all over, it is also known for performing a number of community outreach programs especially working with families who may not be able to afford such a training otherwise.
“The bread and butter of our program is to prepare kids to get college scholarships,” explained Ray Benton, CEO of the JTCC.
“Our broad category would be community involvement.”
That involvement includes initiatives such as neighborhood youth outreach, Special Olympics, wheelchair tennis, tennis festivals and tennis corps
“My family was actually awarded a scholarship just to help out with the cost for the JTCC program,” said Dawn Smith, a JTCC parent from Upper Marlboro.
“Not only that, just being able to continue with them and to have an opportunity to possibly obtain a college scholarship.”
Thanks to that opportunity, it seems, Smith’s kids Aniya and Kaleb, kind of already have figured out their future.
“Being a black young lady it has really taught me something,” said 10-year-old Aniya Smith.
“It taught me that not only am I black, but I’m also intelligent young and beautiful and smart and I think I can get better at this sport just by watching or playing.”
“Every guy that plays tennis that is the top in this country, I wanna be past them,” said 6-year-old young tennis player, Kaleb Smith.
For more information on JTCC and the center’s community outreach programs click here.