Watching the Royal family and Hollywood celebrities rub shoulders at Wimbledon last weekend could incline some people to think tennis is an elitist sport, but Sy Silverberg wants to change that.
Silverberg, a retired physician, recently established the Society for Kids at Tennis, a non-profit group partnering with Saanich Neighbourhood Place to provide free tennis lessons to kids and teens who otherwise couldn’t afford lessons.
“This was just an idea eight months ago, and now we’re fully operational. It’s my first venture into the not-for-profit arena and I’ve been so amazed by how accommodating everybody is,” said Silverberg, who retired to the Island from Ontario six years ago.
Similar programs held at Vic West Community Centre and Quadra Village Community Centre are showing strong turnout, but kids haven’t been showing up for the Saanich lessons in the same way, Silverberg said.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting the word out,” he said.
The volunteer instructors are mostly retired tennis players, and Silverberg recently completed his Tennis Canada certified instructor course in Nanaimo.
“I’m 72 and I think I’m the oldest student they’ve had,” he said.
Silverberg is looking for more volunteers with tennis experience as the program expands. He’s also arranged a training session for interested volunteers with PISE CEO Robert Bettauer on July 19 at Cedar Hill recreation centre.
“My wife and I wanted to do something to give back other than by sending a cheque,” Silverberg said.
Tennis BC, a provincial division of Tennis Canada, and the South Island Tennis Association have been supportive of Silversberg’s venture, while the TLC Fund for Kids and Victoria Real Estate Board are financial supporters.
Society for Kids at Tennis holds free lessons on Wednesdays at Hampton Park tennis courts. Classes for kids aged eight to 12 take place at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, while a teen program (ages 13 to 18) starts at 6 p.m. No registration is required.
Call 250-360-1148 or email tennis firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.