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Tennis for Fun Adaptive Tennis Organization Comes to Mississippi!

Lori Duke from Hattiesburg, MS has decided to share her love of tennis with special needs individuals in the area through “Tennis for Fun”.  Tennis for Fun is an organization run entirely by volunteers and provide athletes an opportunity to have fun playing tennis, to learn basic skills and to socialize with each other.  Tennis for Fun is open to people from ages 6 to 86!.  All equipment is provided and no prior experience is needed, just the desire to have fun. Tennis for Fun is a USTA member and has programs in Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Lori got involved with Tennis for Fun through her sister, who lives in Tampa, Florida.  After picking Lori up at the airport during a visit, she was brought to a local tennis event called Tennis for Fun.    As Lori was watching the athletes having a blast with her sister and various volunteers, Lori noticed the joy in everyone's faces.  Lori knew she was going to retire in two years and felt how wonderful it would be to bring Tennis for Fun to Hattiesburg at that time.  Lori decided to reach out to Judy Moore, the program director, and asked how to go about starting a program.  Judy, in turn, guided Lori on strategies to get Tennis for Fun off the ground in southern Mississippi.

Lori found volunteers to deliver Tennis for Fun by asking her retired tennis pals.  Tatum Park graciously allowed Lori and Tennis for Fun to use the courts, at no charge. In addition, Lori reached out to USTA Mississippi and USTA Southern and they graciously donated grant money to the program.  Athletes were able to receive a tennis racquet, t-shirt and free tennis lessons.

Tennis for Fun has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Lori’s life. Lori at every session sees the absolute joy in the athletes’ faces and is always very moved.

Lori contacted the various county school systems, the ARC and Special Olympics to bring individuals to the program.  Tennis for Fun was started in Hattiesburg at the beginning of March 2024 and ran until May 8, with participation in the Special Olympics, May 10-12, 2024.  Throughout the program, Lori had 5 athletes each week.  Lori will look to add more participates when Tennis for Fun resumes after Labor Day. 

Lori is now part of the Tennis for Fun family started in Tampa, Fl in 2000 by Nathan Moore, Judy’s son.  Tennis for Fun was recently awarded the USTA National Adaptive Tennis Community Service Award at the 2024 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference.  The USTA Annually bestows this recognition upon a program that has demonstrated continued excellence, dedication and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.  Thanks to Lori Duke for bringing Tennis for Fun to Mississippi!