February brought an incredibly special event to The Aspen Hill Club—our Club and members served as hosts to the 2019 Winter Invitational. This special junior tennis tournament brought nearly 60 kids representing seven cities across the nation (DC, Boston, Dallas, Harlem, Philly, and Trenton) to learn and compete on and off the court. Each city sent USTA Local Excellence programs to the event.
USTA Excellence centers are designed to use tennis as a vehicle to educate and bring opportunities (on and off the court) to underserved youth. In addition to playing tennis at the Winter Invitational, players were treated to guest speakers including USTA National coaches, a college coach forum, and leadership skills and lessons by Win4Life.
To be a member of a USTA Excellence team, players must do much more than be strong players. Players must have at least a 3.0 GPA, conduct at least four community service events a year, complete a USTA NJTL Essay competition, and compete on local and national tennis events. While competing at the Winter Invitational, all players from across the country united and prepared over 200 lunches for the Montgomery County Coalition for the homeless – Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC) Men’s Emergency Shelter.
Former Aspen Hill member (and standout tennis player) Jeri Ingram had the idea to bring this event to a place that meant so much to her, “My dad (Joe Ingram) was a member of Aspen Hill and brought me to summer camp when I was 9 years old, that’s where I met Vicki (my first coach) and Jeff Klein. Tennis changed my life and “if there was one person responsible for me enjoying the game of tennis and believing in my ability, it would be Jeff,” Jeri recalls. Bringing kids from across the country to the place where she began her tennis playing was incredibly special for Jeri, “I thought back to how many people helped me at Aspen Hill and at Springbrook High and I know it’s my obligation to reach others.”
Jeri played college tennis at the University of Maryland before playing pro tennis and having a world ranking. She returned to college after playing on the pro tour. Her career goal was to become a college athletic director, but after working with kids, she knew she had a different calling, she explains: “As I began working with kids that can’t afford tennis, I wanted to do more. The more kids I reach, the more I want to do.”
Jeri founded Metropolitan Tennis & Education Group six years ago to help kids have opportunities that they ordinarily wouldn’t, “It’s an awesome opportunity to teach kids and prepare them for college,” says Jeri. MTEF currently has 30 kids on their team, and “We have a GPA of 3.7,” boasts Jeri.
The 2019 Winter Invitational was a huge success. The kids played phenomenal tennis and were treated to learning from college tennis coaches. The kids had a blast and loved the facilities offered by The Club. “We appreciate AHC hosting the event, because of community involvement events like this can happen. It’s a heavy lift and we need great support like we received from Aspen Hill” explained Jeri.
Aspen Hill was lucky to watch such great tennis and meet so many fabulous new faces!