Spreading Love Through Tennis
Published on October 31, 2023
When Coral Springs Tennis Instructor David Russell steps onto one of the professionally surfaced, brightly lit, and meticulously maintained tennis courts at the Coral Springs Tennis Center, he’s immediately overcome with gratitude to be there.
The privilege of playing at an award-winning facility with 16 courts might be lost on most, but for Russell, a recent trip to an underdeveloped part of the world to conduct tennis lessons reaffirmed that not all communities are as fortunate.
“What I hope the Coral Springs community will gain from an experience like this is gratitude,” Russell said. “I often find myself having to remind them (local tennis players) about the blessings they have at their disposal.”
Russell, along with former Coral Springs Tennis Instructor, Dennis Quaye, recently returned from Tema, Ghana where they held the 3rd Annual Ghana Give Back, a trip planned and organized by “Dennis Tennis Serving Love.” The nonprofit organization, co-founded and directed by Quaye, aims to provide under resourced youth the opportunity to learn and enjoy the game of tennis through donations of clothing and equipment, engaging tennis clinics, and empowering health and fitness activities.
Quaye was raised in Ghana and had made trips there several times before. This time, he invited friend and board member, Russell, to join him. It was not only Russell’s first time traveling to Ghana, but also his first trip to the continent of Africa, a milestone that was especially meaningful since Russell hails from the island of Jamaica, a national largely influenced by African roots.
“Dennis being from Ghana and myself being from Jamaica, we bonded right away as immigrant coaches who share a love for tennis and culture, and that was where the idea for such a trip was born,” Russell said.
While in Tema, the pair -- both seasoned tennis experts -- worked with children who ranged in age from 4 to 18. They conducted regular, hands-on tennis clinics and donated gently use tennis equipment to the locals. Despite Tema’s 2-court facility lacking the bells and whistles that tennis players in Coral Springs would be used to, many Ghanaians still exhibited a newfound love for tennis by the end of the trip, with many even embracing their local courts as a regular “hangout” spot and offering to assist with club operations.
Kevin McCarthy, longtime Coral Springs Tennis Center Director, is glad that the city’s instructors want to expand their tennis experience outside of Coral Springs, as he feels it adds value to the members’ experience, and propels the city to new notoriety.
“When our instructors want to get involved in global initiatives, it not only brings Coral Springs to the world stage in a new way, but it also broadens their perspective and makes them better, more well-rounded tennis players and coaches,” McCarthy said.
Russell returned from the trip feeling deeply inspired by the children -- their passion for unity and community pride resonating far beyond the game that brought them together. He hopes to exude that same humility, passion, and inspiration as he continues to teach tennis lessons in Coral Springs.
“I will apply my experience from this trip to my role as an instructor by continuing to instill gratitude and appreciation into my students.” Russell said. “I have witnessed what the people of Coral Springs can do on a global level when aware of the opportunities we have at our disposal, and I wish for us to reach our fullest potential.”