When BETC member Maeson Harper started learning tennis a couple of years ago, she would stand still and swing the racquet at the approaching ball and frequently miss. If the ball was out of her reach, she would never move to it, just swing and watch the ball go by. That’s when she started the weekly Adaptive Recreation class offered by Boeing Employees Tennis Club (BETC) Head Pro, Allen Overland, to learn the basics. After that, she started weekly lessons in BETC Pro Bill Bartlett’s J1 class.
Six months ago, Maeson started taking multiple lessons per week from BETC Pro, Dan Cotton, who is now her Special Olympics Tennis Coach. Maeson has improved her tennis game such that she runs to the ball every time, wherever it is on the court. She recently rallied with Coach Dan (she calls him the “Danimal”) for 19 balls straight. She has served 9 consecutive serves into the correct box. She knows that running for approach shots are preferable to the 5 push-ups Coach Dan requires if the ball bounces twice. She works hard and enjoys the game. Getting to her lessons on time can be troublesome when there are hugs and conversations with Marsha, Kathy, Julie, Barb and Kenzie upon arrival at the Club. Clearly the social aspects of tennis are as important as technique.
Maeson, who is 16 years old and has Down Syndrome, played her first matches (ever) at the Special Olympics National Tennis Championships in late October 2017 at Hilton Head, SC. She took 4th in Singles after losing to the (adult) Gold Medalist (1-4, 2-4). She took Bronze in Unified Doubles (with a typically-developing partner) and experienced the thrill of scoring, umpires, ball-boys/girls and playing on green clay courts with orange balls and 60’ baselines.
Maeson is the Special Olympics Washington (SOWA) Tennis Female Athlete Delegate to the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this year in July (https://www.specialolympicsusagames.org/tennis-schedule).
Maeson’s 2-hr practices with her fellow Special Olympians are on BETC Court 6 every Monday at 12:30 and every Friday at 1:30. If you want to keep track of Maeson’s team progress or donate to their training budget, Special Olympics has established the following website for the team: https://impact.sowa.org/team/157854.
BETC is also sponsoring a 2-day (May 5th and 6th) Tennis Camp for People with Special Needs. All equipment is provided and Athletes of any (or no) ability are welcome. Registration and more information on the Camp is located HERE.
Maeson and her family want to thank the BETC staff and pros for their sponsorship, dedication and warmth in helping Maeson adopt a sport that will hopefully be a part of the rest of her life.