The University of Wyoming will be opening its tennis courts Saturday as part of the second annual Vets at the Nets tennis clinic, a program meant to thank veterans and their families for their service.
Registration starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, with instruction from UW Head Tennis Coach Dean Clower at 10 a.m. Free lunch will be provided at noon, with open play until 2 p.m. Every veteran will be guaranteed to win at least one door prize.
Corey Jenkins, project coordinator at the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, said it’s a great program for local veterans.
“It’s just an opportunity to honor the veterans, to give them the opportunity to come out and to have some fun,” he said.
Jenkins said it is a good way to give back to veterans and their families who have made sacrifices for their country.
Frank Adams, a U.S. Tennis Association wheelchair expert, will also be at the event, providing lessons to those who use a wheelchair.
“You don’t have to be totally healthy to play tennis,” Jenkins said. “There is really great players who play wheelchair tennis, and people with all kinds of disabilities can get out and enjoy the game.”
Jenkins said there are a lot of positives to playing tennis, including physical, mental and social benefits. Clower said tennis is a simple and enjoyable sport to pick up.
“The beauty of tennis is that it doesn’t really matter if you are good, bad or ugly,” Clower said. “There are all levels, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are.”
Jenkins said a 2017 event in Cheyenne had good results and he thinks it was beneficial to those who participated. He talked about veterans who were at the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cheyenne who did not initially want to be there.
Yet, once they started playing, there mood changed and they started having fun. Jenkins said the person who brought them said it was the first time they had seen one of the patients smile in a long time.
The event has received help and support from the local community Jenkins said. One such example is that the Butcher’s Block, a local butcher’s shop, is providing the meat for a lunch barbecue.
The organizers are also receiving support from national names in the tennis world. Stan Smith, a former Grand Slam singles champion, is providing a pair of signed Adidas shoes. Nick Bollettieri, a tennis coach famous for coaching Andre Agassi and other prominent tennis players, is providing one of his books as a prize for the event. Meredith Brose, recreation project coordinator for Mission Redefined Wyoming, said this is just one of many events that will happen throughout the year.