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Southern California women hit a winning serve

September 24, 2016 08:54 PM

By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. – The Southern California women’s team from Laguna Niguel, Calif., has made some great serves this season to reach the USTA League Adult 18 Over 4.0 National Championships at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort. The biggest and most important serve, however, has taken place off the tennis court.

Earlier this year, several members of the team, which plays at the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club in Orange County, established Tennis Serves Others, a member-based nonprofit organization. The mission of Tennis Serves Others is to unite ladies in the tennis community to organize and promote charitable activities benefiting needy individuals, groups or organizations in their local communities and throughout the world.

“We were playing tennis one day and a friend of ours had just returned from helping others in Tijuana (Mexico). We were very inspired by her,” said Carol Walsh, team member and chairperson of Tennis Serves Others. “We play so much tennis and we spend so much on clothes and competition, we should give back to the community. It was like a calling, this is what we needed to do.”

Since its inception seven months ago, Tennis Serves Others has grown to over 60 members and has raised thousands of dollars to aid many organizations, including Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Noble Path Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of South Coast Area, Orangewood Foundation and Mary’s Kitchen.

“We have an on-going service project called Tennis Soles for Others that collects gently-used shoes. We have bins at seven locations at different clubs where we collect these shoes,” said Walsh, a 45-year-old resident of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The shoes collected are sent to charitable organizations in Tijuana and homeless shelters in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Tennis Serves Others has also organized more than a half-dozen round-robin tennis tournaments as fundraisers. A large fundraising event is being planned for May 2017, with a goal to raise $10,000.

“We started out meetings with everyone on our board bringing three charities as ideas and we would vote on who we would do our next event for,” said Treasurer Marcia Patterson. “We all keep coming up with different ideas and now our members are giving us ideas.”

According to Patterson, one of the organization’s first projects was a “Teddy Bear Round Robin.” The entry fee to play in the tennis round robin was a teddy bear. All of the stuffed animals were later donated to Children's Hospital of Orange County.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. We’ve achieved something,” Patterson said. “You’re at home or work thinking, ‘I need to do something, I need to get involved and I need to give back.’ We took the step and we did it. We’re really proud of that.”

Walsh credits the members for the success of Tennis Serves Others. “It’s all of us wanting to do it together to make it happen,” she said.

To learn more about Tennis Serves Others, please go to TennisServesOthers.org.