It began with a cement slab and soon escalated into a first-class youth tennis court in White Springs, thanks primarily to the efforts of White Springs resident, Tom Moore, an avid tennis player and highly-recognized coach.
“Tom is a rare individual. He sees a need, decides how he can help, and brings all his enthusiasm and expertise to find a workable solution,” said White Springs Mayor Helen Miller.
Donations from the community and a grant from the United States Tennis Association-Florida (USTA Florida) made it all possible. Moore has already started teaching young students at the new court located at the Bailey Ogburn Field on Adams Memorial Drive (US 41).
Moore stated that it was a donation from the Share the Love Foundation that allowed him to introduce tennis to the children of White Springs and spark the idea of a tennis court being built there.
“I volunteered to teach tennis if we were able to get a grant for the equipment,” Moore said.
It didn’t take long before Mayor Miller received a grant for the H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Excel) Summer Enrichment Program, which was founded by Miller when she discovered there were so few after school activities for the area children.
Since then, donations have been abundant. A new sign will be hung at the court to thank all those who donated to the project. Advanced Polymer Technology donated the paint and USTA Florida and USTA Florida Foundation gave a grant to have the court painted and lined. The Youth Tennis Foundation of Florida put the finishing touches on by providing a significant grant to construct the surrounding fence and windscreens, and to purchase an equipment shed. Local area contributions came from Anderson-Columbia, PCS Phosphate in White Springs, Hamilton County and the Town of White Springs.
“The court was also designed to provide the Quickstart program of tennis,” Moore said.
Quickstart is a specially designed program for teaching children 10-and-under how to play tennis.
Moore is busy putting the final touches on the court, which include laying 1,000 square feet of sod, painting the bleachers and picnic tables, “and moving the equipment to our ‘club house’, an 8 x 10 equipment shed,” Moore said.
The residents of White Springs, especially the children, wish to recognize and thank everyone who so generously donated time, effort and funding to provide yet another opportunity for the children of White Springs. Last Thursday 45 children from the H.O.P.E. After School Program came out to see the newly constructed court and fencing.
“They were able to spend time hitting on the court with the Quickstart program,” Moore said. “After the children left, White Springs resident Doris ‘Rosetta’ Dye and her daughter Antoinette came out to play some tennis,” he added.
“We would have to go to Southside in Lake City or to the courts in Jasper in the past,” Dye said. “This is so much better.”
Future plans are to build a backboard to accommodate the number of tennis students that continues to grow. Currently, there are 90 kids in the program. There will be a grand opening in the near future to honor those companies who made this possible.
Moore said, “We are hoping to come to Jasper and clean up the courts at the courthouse and get community tennis re-started once again.”