The McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, located on the campus of William & Mary, will launch ACEing Autism this summer.
ACEing Autism is a non-profit organization that brings recreational tennis programs to children on the autism spectrum, and the MNTC is currently the only facility in Virginia offering the program.
The specially designed tennis clinic will be offered every Sunday June 25-July 30 from 3 to 4 p.m. for children under 10 years old and 4 to 5 p.m. for children 11-18.
Participants will receive specialized instruction by Donald Widener, ACEing Autism Program Director (Virginia), a MNTC resident professional (certified by U.S. Tennis Association Player Development, U.S. Professional Tennis Association and Professional Tennis Registry) and a team of dedicated volunteers. Each student will be paired with one to two volunteers based on his/her needs.
"The McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center is a unique community asset, and we are thrilled to be able to offer this program to families with children on the autism spectrum. Tennis can by a lifelong activity and we hope to introduce this sport to children who need a more personalized approach. Our goal is to teach them skills that will serve them both on and off the court,” said Widener.
The clinic benefits children on the autism spectrum and their peers in various ways. Each 50-minute session will aim to include a warm up, running and jumping exercises on the court, basic hand-eye coordination skills such as rolling the ball and balancing ball on the racquet, volleys at the net, groundstrokes at the service line, an obstacle course and group game and ball pickup.
Each program is flexible and can be modified based on each child’s skill level and favorite activities. The primary focus on court is to emphasize social skills training and general socialization and to improved fitness, hand eye coordination and improved motor skills.
ACEing Autism operates in over 50 locations across the U.S., serving 1,027 children. It has delivered 2,864 hours of tennis classes to children with autism, including creating more than 37,000 hours of community service earned by students through ACEing Autism’s volunteer program. ACEing Autism is a grant recipient from the USTA Foundation and survives solely on grants and public donations.
“We are very excited to be bringing our mission to Williamsburg. Bringing the game of tennis to children with autism and their families has such a profound impact with families and communities we serve! We can’t wait to train the volunteers and see the new program grow and become part of the community,” said Richard Spurling, CEO of ACEing Autism.
McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, located on the campus of William & Mary features six indoor, climate-controlled courts with stadium seating and the International Tennis Association Women’s Hall of Fame and plays hosts to men’s & women’s varsity team tennis, numerous local and regional USTA-sanctioned tournaments.