Tennis For Fun has moved to Arlington Park from Longboat Key, where the program can serve more athletes with intellectual disabilities who are interested in tennis.
For an hour beginning at 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday, Tennis For Fun offers a free clinic on three courts at Arlington Park. The program welcomes athletes who qualify for the Special Olympics from ages 8 to 50 who have an interest in learning and enjoying tennis.
Tennis For Fun is a free tennis program and volunteer organization that offers the opportunity to learn basic court skills, socialize with other participants and have fun.
This program started on Longboat Key in 2020, but Training Site Director Brenda Shields and Tennis Professional Ron Shields realized that the program would benefit more people if they stayed on the mainland.
“After our second season we decided to move the program from the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center into the city of Sarasota to reach and serve more participants,” Ron and Brenda Shields said in an email. “As you know, traffic on Longboat Key can be a major delay and deterrent for parents getting athletes to Longboat Key especially during season.”
All volunteers must pass a background check through the Special Olympics organization. All interested athletes must be cleared by their family physician to participate in the sport.
“We are fortunate to have our trained volunteers from Longboat Key who are passionate about tennis,” Ron and Brenda Shields said. “We are wanting to grow the athletes.”
Dariela is the Sarasota community reporter for the Observer. After graduating from Florida State University with degrees in English and education, she’s been a writer and an editor for publications in Tallahassee and Sarasota. In her free time she gives violin lessons.