200 to LOVE
The hundreds of members of Brunswick County Tennis Association not only play tennis, but also better the community.
Tennis is like a bag of potato chips. You can’t stop at one chip or one game. It’s even more fun when you can share it with newcomers and watch them fall in love with the deliciousness.
A group of around 200 players in Brunswick County who love to volley and encourage active participation in the sport has been instrumental in bringing in new folks of all ages and abilities, including special needs players, while helping local communities keep their courts in tip-top shape. They’ve even coached local kids do better in school. It’s the Brunswick County Tennis Association (BCTA), formed as a nonprofit organization 20 years ago.
BCTA President Bob Cause says anyone can join for a meager 13 bucks, and even if you don’t play much, volunteering to help with summer camps and after school programs for kids may just be your racket. Cause said BCTA encourages both casual and competitive play, which is evident year-round via association-sponsored men’s and women’s leagues and tournament action. However, responsible citizenship is also in their veins, and the members spend a great deal of time creatively combining academic tutoring, the teaching of life skills and tennis lessons to youngsters all in one stroke. They’ve even formed a tennis program for Special Olympics.
In the first set, there is a fall league for men and women. Play is for women of all ages who are ranked or rank themselves as intermediate players (3.0 to 3.5 level). They also play in a spring league from March through May.
There’s a 55-and-over age league for men of the same caliber of play, with competitions in the fall at Smithville Township District Park in Southport and in the summer season from May to July. Cause says there are usually around seven or eight teams in each league, with about a dozen people on a team.
The women play during daylight hours, while the men enjoy the game under the lights. The association uses 13 public courts countywide, which they work closely with the townships to maintain. Members also support the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Brunswick County Junior Open Singles Tournament in March.
As much as they enjoy playing the game, Cause says the association sports a huge volunteer organization that advocates for new courts and updating and maintaining older ones throughout the county. He says the group’s sponsors and members funded a new backboard a few years ago at Ocean Isle Beach Park and scoreboards there and in Smithfield. They continue to work with Brunswick Community College in the creation of new courts at the Bolivia campus.
The association has also just received a USTA foundation grant to support its National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) program.
This unique program, which Cause says has been publicized nationally, focuses on after school and summer academic tutoring and advancement, life skills and, of course, tennis. The academics portion focuses on mathematics, reading and robotics. He says members have worked with the Cedar Grove Middle School after school programs the past three years and have helped teachers advance their students 50 percent in academic standards in that period.
In 2021 they added robotics to the educational component of the NJTL summer camp. Under the tutelage of a software engineer from Corning, the students ages 5 to 9 programmed Sphero robots to perform simple tasks.
Relatedly, BCTA members have provided students at South Brunswick Middle School with tennis as an official physical education class. BCTA has also been involved in creating summer tennis clinics for children at Southport’s daycare program and are planning an after-school program for children there. Their aim is to expand summer and after school programs in the northern part of the county.
Finally, BCTA provides scholarships to West and South Brunswick High School students for their tennis team players to receive tennis lessons from area professional players.
BCTA began in 2001 by a group of tennis players in the Oak Island, Shallotte, Southport and southern Brunswick County areas and is committed to the promotion, growth and development of tennis in Brunswick County. The three main organizers were Doris Bennett, Sue McCann and Janet Denny. BCTA welcomes all people who play, watch, support and enjoy the game of tennis.
Want to play?
Brunswick County Tennis Association
Go to bcta.net for additional details and to pay and join online via credit card.