The International Tennis Hall of Fame celebrated TeamFAME’s first graduating class of eighth graders on Wednesday evening at the second annual Sunset Slam.  

TeamFAME, the ITHF’s National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Chapter backed by the USTA Foundation, is a primary outlet by which the ITHF builds community through tennis. Since the program’s launch in 2018, TeamFAME has provided tennis programming, academic support, and enrichment opportunities to over 135 middle schoolers and their families in the Newport area.

Program supporters and staff, local community leaders, and TeamFAME families gathered together at the ITHF for a tennis round-robin, followed by an evening program and dinner. Thanks to contributions from local event sponsors Bank Newport, Citizens, IGT, SVB Securities, and numerous individuals, the Sunset Slam raised nearly $85,000 to support TeamFAME.

“It has been inspiring for all of us involved to watch every kid grow and develop into student-athletes. Each one brings something special to the group, and they are what makes TeamFAME thrive today,” said Marguerite Marano, Director of TeamFAME.

L to R: Marguerite Marano (Director of TeamFAME), Todd Martin (ITHF CEO), Patrick Burns (Award Sponsor), Millena Carapia, Ann Burns (Award Sponsor). Photo Credit: Kate Whitney Lucey

“The accelerated growth of the program has been the result of like-minded partners, dedicated staff, passionate volunteers, committed families, and generous donors. I’m so proud of all we have accomplished.” 

Beginning as fifth graders at Newport’s Thompson Middle School, the nine graduating students have participated in TeamFAME year-round throughout the past four years. Thanks to the skills developed during their time in TeamFAME, the students are prepared to succeed on their high school tennis teams, in the classroom, and as leaders in the community.

Millena Carapia, a rising ninth grader from Portsmouth, R.I. who will attend St. George’s School this fall on a scholarship, received the TeamFAME Character of a Champion Award. Presented in memory of Terrence C. Burns, former Vice Principal of Thompson Middle School, Principal of Rogers High School, and Hall of Fame Tennis Club member, the award recognizes sportsmanship, consistent desire to improve, and positivity.

 L to R: Todd Martin, Marguerite Marano, Noemy De Souza, Bill Mountford (ITHF Director of Tennis). Photo Credit: Kate Whitney Lucey

“I love TeamFAME so much,” commented Millena. “It got me started with tennis, and opened so many doors for me in tennis and academically. I really like the little community we have in TeamFAME, and we have a lot of fun.”

Rising Rogers High School ninth grader Noemy De Souza earned the FILA R.E.A.C.H. Award, standing for Realizing Extraordinary Accomplishments with Courage & Humility and presented by long-time ITHF partner FILA. 

“We had so many people come speak about academics, and how it’s important,” said Noemy. “It drove me to get my grades up, and now I do have them up. TeamFAME has helped me deal with any emotions that can cause problems, and apply that to outside tennis.”

All TeamFAME graduates will play for their respective high school teams, remain involved at the ITHF as Coaches-in-Training, and will participate in college and career readiness programs. Notably, the interest sparked by TeamFAME’s student-athletes has helped to revive a boys’ tennis team at Rogers High School for this upcoming school year.

To learn more about TeamFAME and how to support the ITHF’s community-based program, visit tennisfame.com/teamfame.

Source: International Tennis Hall of Fame

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