By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO For the past six weeks, many local boys and girls learned more about the sport of tennis at DeHoyos Park in Monticello.
On Thursday night, those youngsters participated in the final session of the program, which was presented by Match Point Tennis and the Village of Monticello.
Program Director Urvashi “Tutu” Gupta noted that 30-plus kids from ages 8 to 18 participated in the program, which was available free of charge to boys and girls who live in Monticello as well as throughout Sullivan County. The children attended the program at DeHoyos Park every Thursday evening from July 14 through last Thursday.
“The kids have been having a good time each week,” said Gupta, who has been the tennis coach at Monticello High School for many years. “They have learned a lot about tennis and that it is a great game and a lot of fun.
“Tennis is a sport they are not exposed to in school as much as some sports,” she commented. “Tennis is different that other sports. It is a sport these children can keep playing for their entire lifetime. And another great thing about tennis is that you don’t need a lot of other people or equipment to play. You just need a court with a net and one other person.”
Gupta, who has taught a youth tennis program in Monticello for 16 years, praised her three fellow instructors for their help with the program. Twin brothers Tanner Wuerthner and Tyler Wuerthner, who are 2009 graduates of Monticello High School, and Jennifer Giza, who is a member of the Monticello High School tennis team, all participated in the program when they were younger. Tanner Wuerthner enjoys teaching the game so much that he recently became a certified tennis instructor.
Gupta noted that the youth tennis program is made possible by a grant from the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
“Every year, Sandy Hoffman, who is the USTA Tennis Service Representative Eastern, is able to give us money for the program,” Gupta said. “We really appreciate her for doing that.”
Hoffman, who noted that the Eastern region of the USTA includes all of New York State, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut, was at DeHoyos Park on Thursday evening to see the local program in action.
Hoffman also helped instruct the young players. She had them divide into four teams of six or seven players each. Two teams stood on the side of one court and two teams stood along another court.
Two members of each team took their places on both sides of the court and Hoffman stood at the net. She then served the ball to one player, who attempted to return the ball over the net. If that player did so, they earned a point for their team. Whenever a point was scored, both teams put two new players on the court. The game continued until one team earned 10 points.
Taking a look around at all of the youngsters enjoying tennis, Hoffman praised Gupta for her dedication to the program.
“It’s great that Tutu gives so much of her time to this program,” Hoffman said. “She loves tennis and has such a passion for the game. For her to help these kids learn about tennis is wonderful.”
Michael Greco of the Village of Monticello Recreation Department also visited the program on Thursday night.
“I love that we have a program like this in the village,” he said. “And we are so lucky to have Tutu leading the program with all of her tennis experience. She is doing a great job.”
At the end of Thursday evening’s program, all of the participants received a certificate and prizes.