Tennis is a Family Affair!

At first sight on the Highland Park tennis courts, what you see is tennis. I mean, there’s the courts, and the blue and green landscape immediately draws you in. It shouts out loud summer, freedom, outdoors, sweat and certainly fun!

But a closer look says so much more. But first, let me take you back a few steps away from the net. (As if you are actually going to rush the net with Ernie Bey on the other side!)  The vision I’ve given you comes on behalf of the Highland Park Tennis Club, heretofore HPTC.

The HPTC is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity formed in 2002 when a group of avid tennis players came together to promote interest in tennis by developing programs and activities in the local community.

The founding men and women of the club are Ronald Brandon, Fred Crawford, Lawade Garris, Bob Gibbs, Jim Quigley, Joyce Scott, and Hannah Vinson-Spearman.

Dana Costa is the current president and has presided over the club for the past few years. The club is operated by a core of devoted unpaid volunteers, but you can’t tell by looking given the level of professionalism, quality, and excellence that they present.

The club is an active member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and falls under the USTA Allegheny Mountain District and USTA Middle States Section.

The owners of numerous awards, the club does not discriminate in any aspect. They offer various sponsorship and mentorship opportunities. In addition, they sponsor a number of activities, tournaments, youth programs and special skill set programs.  All of which are available for children as young as 5 years old…to AS OLD AS YOU WANT TO BE!!!  And not only is it free, they give you tennis balls and racquets to play with.

The future looks good

As if that’s not enough…they also sponsor a 5K run/walk health expo, free youth clinics throughout the summer each Saturday morning, a Steeler party, food drive and the former long running Champions —Achieving Greatness Celebrity Mixed Doubles Tournament (a tournament, I should point out, that former Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl Champion Dwayne Woodruff and his wife Joy have never won… and Joy will tell you whose fault that was, given that she’s the better player… but I digress!)

But hold on, wait a minute… I AIN’T DONE YET.  The HPTC provides special lessons for those who are wheelchair-bound and for those who are blind and vision-impaired. It is beyond amazing, beyond unbelievable and without question unimaginable…that is until you see it. It’s not until then that your faith, your heart and all that makes us whole and special kicks in you are reminded that all things are possible…IF YOU ONLY BELIEVE!

Volunteers make the game go on! Joined by Fred Crawford, far left,  and Bill Neal, far right.

Full transparency, I am a member of HPTC…(and no, my game is not worthy, but they let me in anyway).  But more than that, I am proud to call many of the members a friend. And any and every time I am there at the courts, I feel a special sense of energy and spirit. A high level of collaboration and camaraderie if you will.  And believe it or not, I get that feeling even though Joyce Scott is constantly beating me up about something!

I strongly encourage you to get down to the Highland Park Tennis Courts on Stanton Avenue, if you have time before the frost sets.  If not, most assuredly do you and your family a favor and look into being a part of the totality of what is the Highland Park Tennis Club. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And here’s the good news. If all else fails, just stop by and have a seat on the bench and talk sports with me and Fred Crawford…now that’s where the match point is held, and don’t come soft, we serve and return serve with game, set, match intended!







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