Fourteen-Year-Old Louchheim Spearheads Bridgehampton Youth Tennis Project
The things that make tennis such a unique sport are the positive effects it has beyond those white lines.
“I love the sport, for a variety of reasons. I strongly believe that playing tennis my whole life has done much more for me than simply build my fitness and ability,” said Jack Louchheim, a 14-year-old from Sagaponack, N.Y. who plays on the East Hampton Varsity Tennis team. “Playing tennis has increased my commitment, mental endurance, self-confidence and ability to perform under difficult circumstances in all aspects of my life. I would not be the motivated student I am today without it. Playing tennis has also introduced me to the people who are my best friends today. These relationships would not exist if I had never picked up a racket for the first time.”
Louchheim is now taking that philosophy and putting it to work, launching the Bridgehampton Youth Tennis Project, which will be providing courts, equipment and instruction to campers at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center (BHCCRC).
The eighth-grader had been in contact with Executive Director Bonnie Michelle Cannon for about two years before starting the project. While there was some tennis components to the Camp, the kids were using adult rackets on adult courts, and Louchheim wanted to improve upon that.
“I wanted to integrate tennis into the child center’s summer camp, and I asked Bonnie Michelle Cannon what she thought of the idea and she really liked it,” said Louchheim. “I attended a board meeting at the center and put together a PowerPoint presentation, and they were very supportive of the idea.”
After asking his friends if they were willing to spend some time working with him this summer, Louchheim’s next step was to raise the money required.
“I’ve raised $43,000 to date and my overall goal is to get to $50,000,” he said. “I have raised all the money for the new court, have hired a contractor and they have already begun ripping up the old multipurpose court and will begin building the new youth tennis court.”
Another reason the idea was intriguing to the BHCCRC is because the project would allow the younger children, ages five through eight, to not have to be bussed with the older kids to the tennis park at Sag Harbor. The kids will be able to stay on-site and use the court and equipment that is appropriate for their age.
In addition to raising money and getting the idea approved, Louchheim has taken the USTA’s online course on coaching youth tennis, and those whom he has helping him this summer will be taking the course as well.
The Ross School’s Director of Tennis Vinicius Carmo and his staff pros, along with Joe Arias of the Suffolk County Junior Tennis League (SCJTL), will be providing instruction on how to teach the youth tennis drills to Louchheim and his friends.
Louchheim has combined his desire to help the kids at the BHCCRC with his love of tennis in hopes of the sport having the same positive effects on others as it did on him.
“Tennis has made me a better person. It’s made me better physically, increasing my stamina and strength, but I also think it has helped me become a good student and led to success in many other aspects of my life,” he said. “It’s a fun way to help and benefit the community and hopefully some of the kids I work with will get the same benefits that the sport has given me.”
Bonnie Michelle Cannon, executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center (BHCCRC), with Jack Louchheim, head of the Bridgehampton Youth Tennis Project.
Commack Tennis Team Hosts Annual Free Clinic
The tennis courts at Commack High School were filled to capacity for the community’s recent free annual tennis clinic. The goal of the clinic was for the high school players to teach young students in the community the fundamentals of the sport of tennis.
"Our junior varsity and varsity players run each court teaching the kids different skills such as forehands, backhands, volleys and serves," said Commack Head Coach Shane Helfner. "This event is a way to give back to the community. A lot of schools don't do these types of things. "If this type of event can inspire one or two kids to pick up the game of tennis, then it is well worth the effort."
Avi Gupta, a sixth grader at Commack Middle School, has been coming to this event for the past three years.
"Coming here gives me an idea of what I need to do in order to make the high school tennis team," said Gupta, who has been playing tennis for four years now and said his goal is to make the team in eighth grade. "It helps give me a feel of what their level is and the work ethic that is required to make the team."
Andy Zhou, senior captain of the Boys Varsity Team, said the tennis clinic is a great way to give back to the community and he looks forward to the event all year.
"It is a great way to show the game of tennis to younger kids and it is a way to inspire more kids to play," said Zhou.
Sportime Kings Park was also part of the free tennis clinic. Trophies and free t-shirts were given to all participants.