Inner City Tennis Clinics (ICTC) Children Attend ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship
CLEVELAND, OH (Feb. 28) - The children of Inner City Tennis Clinics (ICTC) got a chance to watch play and chat with college tennis players at the 2014 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship presented by Dickenson Group, LLC, on Saturday afternoon at the Mayfield Village Racquet Club. The tournament was hosted by Case Western Reserve University.
The kids came in and were immediately treated with lunch while they watched the tennis being played on all 12 courts. This USTA/ITA Campus Kids' Day was organized by Todd Wojtkowski, head men's tennis coach at Case Western University and an active participant in the ICTC cause. Wojtkowski said his players also regularly give back to the community.
"ICTC is a great program that is only three miles from campus," he said. "A lot of our players spend considerable time volunteering there through the year and get a chance to give back to the sport that gave so much to them."
Chad Docktor (center) poses with ICTC attendees and CWRU players
Todd also explained that Dickenson Group, LLC was a huge factor in making the tournament and the ICTC visit happen.
"It would not have been worth it without their funding," Wojtkowski said. "Dave Dickenson, the CEO at Dickenson Group, LLC, played No. 1 for Virginia for four years and has tennis to thank for all the success he has experienced in life. It is now his sole passion to give back to the sport that has made him successful. He also serves on the board of directors for the ICTC."
As explained on the ICTC website, Inner City Tennis Clinics is a non-profit organization serving the Cleveland, Ohio community. ICTC was founded by individuals who care about improving the lives of Cleveland's urban youth and helping them to cultivate healthy relationships with peers, mentors, and their own minds and bodies. Their mission statement is as follows:
Providing Cleveland's youth with tennis, health, fitness, literacy, and creative expression programs to promote hope, healthy living and productive futures
ICTC Summer Tennis Director Carly Banasiak helped organize the visit and attended the event. She saw the affect being there had on the kids.
"Todd mentioned to me that we would be bringing the kids to the event and I really wanted to do it," Banasiak said. "It was a great experience for the kids to meet with college players; they were really impressed with the level of the tennis and the atmosphere."
Banasiak said they previously took the players to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, among many activities the kids participate in throughout the year.
As the competition was wrapping up, Chad Docktor, Director of USTA Midwest Junior Competition, met with some of the aspiring players and their parents. He shared with the youth and their parents key information about what it takes to get to the next level and do well in college, and also answered any and all questions regarding the game.
"We were blessed to have Chad there to speak with the kids that could potentially play in college and now really want to," Wojtkowski said.
The previous night, Docktor conducted a "Road to College Tennis" information session for over 50 parents and players. According to Associate Tournament Director Jennifer Reinbold, "The atmosphere was electric - they really got a taste of the best of Division III college tennis. Chad did a fabulous job." Reinbold, a USTA Midwest Collegiate Varsity Sub-Committee member, was the 2012 ITA Collegiate Varsity Volunteer of the Year Award winner.
"The Road to College Tennis" on Friday got a big crowd of players and parents
Docktor finished the information session by introducing players from Washington University-St. Louis and Case Western Reserve, who answered questions from the parents and players, which ranged from a typical day in the life of a college tennis player to travel schedules and scholarship opportunities.
Ross Putterman of Wash U.-St. Louis (left) and Bas Van Lent of CWRU (middle) speak at the information session
Wojtkowski said the parents in attendance were very grateful for the invitation.
"I had one parent tell me, 'Congrats on an amazing Division III Men's Tennis Championship. You inspire our kids to play with their heart and soul. Thanks for leading them to be as good as they can be,'" Wojtkowski said. "They came to learn about how to go about the process and saw how incredibly fun playing in a college team environment could be."
The joint effort by all parties (ITA, USTA Midwest section, Case Western Reserve and the Tournament Committee) was a smashing success, with Banasiak saying many of the ICTC players have invigorated college tennis aspirations.
"A lot of them didn't think that playing college was possible," she said. "They talked to Chad about scholarship opportunities and he showed them that playing is possible. And for many of them, meeting the players was their favorite part."
About the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championships
The ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The men's event began in 2001 and will be held for the 14th time in 2014. The event features eight participating teams and is held over three days, beginning on Friday with the quarterfinals, followed by semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. Four different schools have hosted the event, while Emory (5), Gustavus Adolphus (4), UC Santa Cruz (3) and most recently Kenyon (1) are past champions.
About the ITA
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body of college tennis, overseeing men's and women's varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men and women varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow@ITAtennis on Twitter.