FRANKLIN — It was graduation night for the Lakes Region Tennis Association students at Odell Park last night and just after the big moment, about 15 young students took their donated racquets and demonstrated just how much they learned.
When one of the 8-year-old boys executed the perfect lob and sent the state's number one ranked high school boys tennis player Aaron Diamond of Moultonborough into a fruitless back-pedal, the short demonstration for parents ended with a victory for the young ones.
"OK. That's it for tonight," said coach Kamal Gosine, who was ready to serve potato chips and soda to his budding stars as they ended their first season in Franklin.
The Lakes Region Tennis Association is a three-year old program started by Gilmanton resident Dr. Robert Ronstadt and Phil Eisenmann, who wanted to give young people, especially from disadvantaged communities, an opportunity to learn the sport they have spent a lifetime playing and loving.
Ronstadt said he started it as the result of his 70th birthday when his friends asked what they could get him and he said to contribute to a tennis association for children. He also noted that this year someone donated $10,000 to the program.
"Some of the best friends I've met have been through tennis," Ronstadt said.
With classes established by LRTA in Belmont for Gilmanton and Belmont children the first year, the program has now spread to several different communities including Alton, Laconia, Meredith, Gilford, Franklin and Tilton. The LRTA is an official Community Tennis Association (CTA) of the United States Tennis Association and its primary mission is to act as a clearing house for youth tennis in the area and to teach children under 10 how to play the game and provide scholarships for those who need them.
Gosine – a tennis instructor and member of the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Professional Tennis Association – coaches the teams with help from area tennis players, most of whom are associated with Gilford Hills Racquet and Fitness Club.
A natural teacher, Gosine commands the rapt attention of his young tennis players. He typically gives his students a tennis-related homework assignment. This week it was to research some famous tennis players and report to the class.
Gosine's favorite, Roger Federer, who he said is not only the best tennis player to play the game but someone who is a class-act that gives back to the sport.
This year's most improved tennis-related was an 8-year-old name Noah who said he was now "a very good tennis player." Gosine noted that his hand-eye coordination was considerably improved and that some day Noah may be a "very good tennis player."
As final graduation presents, each parent was given a $100 gift certificate per child to attend a workshop a Gilford Hill. Ronstadt said Gilford Hills contributed one-half of the money while the LRTA contributed the rest.
He said it was so the students could get some tennis played during the winter months and be ready for the LRTA programs next spring.
For more information or to make a donation please go to www.lakesregiontennis.org.
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