Kutztown couple Dale and Louann Reppert started the Eastern Berks Kutztown Tennis Association recently to teach local youth tennis.
“I think tennis teaches confidence, self-esteem, camaraderie with other players but the strongest thing is it gives them the feeling that they can do something on their own,” said Dale. “When you’re on the tennis court, you’re there by yourself. You either hit the ball or you don’t hit the ball. It teaches them individuality and they can believe in themselves. They really do. When they hit that ball and they hit it well, there’s just this smile on their face like ‘I did that. I did it all on my own.’ It really gives you self-confidence.”
Both Dale and Louann are avid tennis players and for years have volunteered to teach youth tennis in their back yard for free. Dale was on the board of the Berks County Tennis Association for a time also.
“We’re a tennis family. We love to play tennis,” said Dale, noting that two of their three grown children had played Division 1 tennis in college.
For some time, Dale has spent all his spare time helping kids play tennis. Dale been teaching tennis since his illness and first brain surgery in 2003, 14 years.
“I swore I’d never take a penny for a tennis lesson and I never have. I’ve volunteered for free all these years to teach kids tennis. I feel it’s my way of giving back. After my illness and all that I went through, it’s my way that I can help others.”
Recently, Louann became the Kutztown High School tennis coach and Dale her volunteer assistant coach.
“We hope to build on it and do a lot of good things,” said Dale. “We’re trying to build back up the tennis program in Kutztown.”
“We don’t have enough kids coming out to play tennis,” said Louann. “We had to pull kids in who had never even picked up a racket.”
“You need a minimum of seven to play an official match at the school,” said Dale.
The Repperts applied for a grant from the USTA and received a $1,500 grant to start the tennis association.
“Reading has tons of tennis programs but they’re all at that end of the county,” said Dale. “So we decided something should be started here in the eastern part of Berks County to offer our kids the same opportunity that the City of Reading have. And Conrad Weiser, they have a great program, but we thought something should be started here to teach kids tennis.”
The tennis association is offering a summer clinic for beginners and experienced players Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Kutztown High School tennis courts. Wednesdays they hold tennis matches as well as matches against other local tennis associations in Berks County. The $20 fee will help with the cost of balls and to pay the professionals teaching tennis. Participants range in age from age 12 through high school seniors. Anyone interested in participating can contact the Repperts.
“We’re running a program to teach them the game of tennis very effectively,” said Dale. “It’s bringing tennis to kids who never played it before... and they’re absolutely loving it. They’ll play tennis the rest of their lives.”
The new tennis association also hosted a USTA tennis tournament at Kutztown High School over Memorial Day weekend, which had a 46 draw. Raising about $500 for the association, proceeds will be going to help the local community learn the game of tennis and help kids with the cost of equipment. Jamie Siefert, Emma Kyle, Dale and Louann Reppert, Jake Heffner, Thomas Siefert and Ryan Knarr helped with the tournament.
A Booster Club fundraises to help pay for things like equipment such as tennis rackets and balls. “So we can help kids play tennis who otherwise might not afford it,” said Dale.
“I would really like to thank the people who are donating, they’ve really helped,” said Louann.
In conjunction with the Kempton Community Center, the Eastern Berks Kutztown Tennis Association will also hold a 10 and under tennis program at the Kempton Community Center, which starts July 11. Contact the Repperts for more information.