The Mansfield Area Tennis Association (MATA) is hoping more kids across the area will take up the sport, and it’s willing to give free lessons to help achieve that goal.
MATA is spearheaded by Trina Gibbs, a former Mansfield ISD teacher and avid tennis player who said she wanted to start a program that could bring more tennis to Mansfield.
Gibbs started the program in 2012 after hearing there weren’t enough girls playing JV tennis at Mansfield and knowing there were just three public courts in Chandler Park.
Although there are plans to add two additional courts, it will take about a year for the project to be completed.
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In the meantime, MATA assists in kids’ clubs at elementary schools with play days and women’s tournaments to help build and keep interest in the sport. The group tries to partner with the USTA whenever possible.
“We want to build enough interest in tennis for the high school programs and get them to play a lifetime of tennis,” Gibbs said. “Tennis is a great lifetime sport.”
Much of the tennis activity in the area is coordinated through the Mansfield Parks & Recreation department, with much of the organization based in the Mansfield Activity Center.
To help build a pipeline of tennis players for the high school ranks and beyond, MATA offers a scholarship program for middle school students.
Free lessons will be made available to students and taught by Chris Perkins at Chandler Park.
The scholarship program is the brainchild of Bill Milhouser, another volunteer for MATA. Milhouser had a grandson who played at Mansfield. He and his wife remain active with MATA and were looking for a way to give back to the sport locally.
Members of MATA intend to meet with interested participants during parent/student meetings at the schools in the fall.
Details of exactly how the scholarships will be awarded are still being finalized.
Funds for the scholarships are obtained through the MATA league fees for the mixed and ladies leagues.
Other donations are welcomed to help jump-start the initiative.
Tennis camps will also be available in July with fees running just $10 per 90-minute session.
“We just want tennis out there,” Gibbs said, noting MATA has made great strides in the schools and in the city over the last three and a half years.
Future plans include creating a city tennis center, but the group knows funding will be needed to make the project a reality.
MATA has already been recognized by the Community Tennis Association with two Excellence Awards at its recent event in San Antonio.
More information about the group can be found on the MATA Facebook page or at www.matatx.com.
Gibbs can be contacted for information on the group or the scholarship program at firstname.lastname@example.org.