Newport, RI – The institution dedicated to celebrating tennis’ most accomplished champions and leaders is now also home to special program dedicated to inspiring the future of the sport. The International Tennis Hall of Fame has officially opened the doors for TeamFAME, a new chapter of the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network. TeamFAME provides out-of-school programming that promotes academic achievement, leadership development, and healthy lifestyles through activity-based learning and tennis.

TeamFAME, which is an acronym for Future Aces Modeling Excellence, got underway in Newport in September with 32 fifth grade students from Thompson Middle School participating. The students come to the Hall of Fame three times per week for programming including tennis instruction, academic support, character building, nutrition education, field trips to other cultural institutions, and more. The program is 100% scholarship based.

A ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration with the students, their families, local school administrators, and other community partners was held this week.

The first class of TeamFAME participants took part in a Ribbon Cutting celebration this week, joined by Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop, Colleen Burns Jermain, Superintendent of Newport Public Schools, Chantal Roche, Diversity & Inclusion Manager for USTA New England, and Todd Martin and Marguerite Marano of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 
Introducing NJTL Newport: TeamFAME
Introducing NJTL Newport: TeamFAME

“We are thrilled to get TeamFAME up and running as an NJTL at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. As a non-profit organization, we have a desire, responsibility, and commitment to be a good neighbor to our local community,” said Todd Martin, CEO. “The Hall of Fame is located on some of the most beautiful property in Newport, and our facility is packed with resources – an educational museum, twenty tennis courts, talented coaches, and the space to host students in a group learning environment. We cannot simply reside here, we want to be an active part of the community and to share this space with our neighbors, and TeamFAME has opened those doors.”

The National Junior Tennis & Learning network was founded in 1969 by Hall of Famers Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell, along with tennis leader Sheridan Snyder as a means to introduce the sport to young people from all backgrounds. Today, the NJTL network has grown to be more than 350 chapters strong across the United States, and serves more than 225,000 students annually.

Among the many activities that kids can get involved with, tennis has a proven track record of creating a long term positive impact. A USTA Foundation survey of more than 50,000 5th – 10th grade students, in which 4,200 played tennis, showed that of the students who played tennis, 48% had an A average, 81% had college aspirations, 73% had never been sent to the principal’s office, and 82% volunteer in their communities.

The overarching vision for TeamFAME is to build community through tennis. While Newport is often considered to be a wealthy community, the reality is that the landscape has extreme variations socio-economically.

Martin stated, “Tennis is a sport that these kids can play all their lives and that they can also get their friends and family involved with too. Research has shown that tennis provides tremendous physical, social, and mental benefits, and has a positive impact on a child’s academic achievement, leadership, and character development. At the International Tennis Hall of Fame, we are clearly passionate about the sport. We are thrilled to be able to introduce tennis to kids who might not otherwise have ever been exposed to the sport and to follow in the vision of three great tennis leaders – Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder.”
The core standards of success for TeamFAME are character education, academic enrichment, tennis and learning, and health and wellness.

To foster growth in those areas, students attend the programming on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and on Saturday mornings. The two weekday sessions begin with a healthy snack and some informal warm up activities. Immediately following, half the students head to the tennis courts, while the other half remain in the learning center for character development, leadership education, and academic programs. After an hour, the groups switch activities. Saturday sessions consist of field trips, health and wellness, community service, or competitive play.

Programming takes place at the Hall of Fame Tennis Club and in the Canfield House, a local landmark and former restaurant space located adjacent to the Hall of Fame Tennis Club that has been renovated to serve as a kid-friendly learning environment.

TeamFAME is just in its early phases, with plans to grow the program each year. The ultimate goal is for TeamFAME to serve students in the 5th through 8th grade in this iteration program, and to create new programming for engagement during the high school years. A new class will be added each year. So, this year’s 5th Graders will stay involved next year as 6th Graders, a new group of 5th Graders will be added, and so forth.

Additionally, TeamFAME will grow to serve the community with wider efforts beyond this specific program, including efforts to grow tennis programming in the school system, at public parks, annual field trips to the Hall of Fame for younger kids, and in other ways that support the program’s overall vision of community development through tennis.

Preparation for TeamFAME has been underway for the past year, inclusive of developing the tennis and character enrichment programming, renovation of the building, recruiting kids, and other aspects for a successful launch.

An advisory board of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds from tennis to academic curriculum to nutrition and more gave their time in the planning year, serving a vital role in helping develop a comprehensive, impactful program.

Additionally, the program was made possible as a result of in depth collaboration with Newport Public Schools and the USTA Foundation.

TeamFAME is supported by FILA, with the iconic apparel brand providing tennis apparel for the students.

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