Hosted by Lee University, 275 kids ages 6-13, along with their parents, 33 instructors and many volunteers gave the clinic high reviews. The clinic was filled with fun as free tennis lessons, prizes, certifications, group photos and special medals were given all week.
Participants came from 20 cities in Tennessee and Georgia to learn from the director, Kay McDaniel, and her capable staff of instructors. McDaniel is a former world-ranked professional tennis player. During the clinics, she captivated the audience with her personal stories consisting of her 10-year dream to play at Wimbledon and compete against the best players in the world.
McDaniel shares inspiring stories of how she overcame difficult obstacles in sports and in life. From age 11 she dreamed of becoming a professional tennis player. Her first tennis racket was a Green Stamp racket which McDaniel collected more than 10,000 stamps to obtain. Her mother sewed all her tennis clothes until age 15, when top sponsors, such as Fila, Adidas, TAIL and Nike sponsored her tennis career.
An early setback for McDaniel was the death of her tennis coach, and later an injury threatened her pro career until God miraculously healed the injury. McDaniel went on to realize her dream by competing at tennis’ Grand Slams for six years against legendary players such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf. She rose to the top 35 in the world in singles and held a No. 20 world ranking in doubles.
This year’s theme was based on 1 Corinthians 13: “Let Love Win: We’ve been given another day to love.” Each year the clinic emphasizes dreaming big, setting small goals, believing God, expecting obstacles but pressing through them all.”
“I had wonderful instructors who are so committed to these clinics.” says McDaniel, “They return year after year, volunteering their time to this event. They are the real heroes of these clinics. I could not put this event on without their hard work.” Lil Andrews, Rhea County tennis coach, won this year’s “Most Inspiring Head Instructor” award for her 10 years of service to the clinics and Jordan Willcutt and Gina Reed received the “Most Inspiring Junior Instructor” award.
Seven awards were given by McDaniel with the nominated winners of these awards being acknowledged at the awards ceremony at the end of the clinic. McDaniel draped the medal around each winner, to the applause of the crowd.
The 2011 award winners were Eloise Stone and Austin Fullwood, who demonstrated “Most Improved” tennis skills. Annie Brown and Mika Carter won “Most Christ-Like.” A special TAIL tennis skirt that McDaniel wore while competing at Wimbledon was given to Lillie Tyson for “Most Promising” while Graham Hammond received a new tennis racket. Bailey Bonekoe won “Most Participation” for her seven consecutive years at the tennis clinics.
To participate in the 2012 Kay McDaniel Tennis Clinics, held June 4-8 next year, registration is open until June 30. All skill levels are welcomed. Register at www.kaymcdanieltennisclinics.com.