USTA New England hosted its second annual Women in Tennis Together (WITT) event geared towards inspiring young women beyond the court. Female coaches, high school-aged players and other influential figures in the industry came together to Wellesley College on September 24 for a day of inclusion, self-esteem building and competitive tennis.
“We wanted to provide this age group with an event that was going to help them connect with one another as well as the coaches and speakers and introduce the fact that tennis can be a pathway to a career. You can use tennis to advance in your life in many ways and that was one of the focuses of the day,” said Chantal Roche, USTA New England Diversity and Inclusion Manager and event coordinator.
The event began with on-court team competition led by hand-selected coaches who personally worked with the players. The competition was followed by a self-esteem workshop presented by Dove’s brand ambassador Danielle Petrucci. The interactive workshop focused on body image and how it’s portrayed by the media. Petrucci discussed the importance of having confidence in your own image regardless of the views of the media or others.
The day continued with more on-court competition and a panel discussion moderated by USPTA Pro Michelle Brown. Panelists shared their tennis stories, philosophies and experiences they’ve had through the sport.
“In tennis, we learn how to win by ourselves, but we also learn by ourselves what losing means, which causes us to learn and adapt and strive to be more solution driven,” said Ebonye Jones, Junior Team Tennis Coordinator for USTA Mid-Atlantic, who served on the panel.
Jones is also a traveling pro in the Washington D.C. area, serves as an assistant college coach and is a former NCAA player.
“Women have been an integral part of my tennis career from playing to coaching,” Jones added. “They encouraged me to still be part of the game outside of playing even after being a collegiate player and I want to do the same for younger girls.”
Following the panel discussion, keynote speaker Mavi Sanchez-Skakle wrapped up the afternoon by sharing her story of how she used tennis as a pathway for success. Sanchez-Skakle is theExecutive Director at New HYTEs, an organization in New Haven that serves underprivileged youths through tennis and education.
“My greatest hope is that in sharing my story, our young female student-athletes see that tennis, a lifetime sport, can impact their personal and professional lives,” she said. “WITT offers a healthy and powerful platform where our youth can share their joy of tennis, as they learn tools to help them with challenges they face.”
Sanchez-Skakle moved to Pittsburgh from Mexico at age 14 and played tennis through her young adult life. She took a brief hiatus from the sport, but picked it up again later in life to teach her son and fell in love all over again.
“Tennis continues to shape my life as the catalyst that sparks our mission with New HYTEs,” Sanchez-Skakle added.
“USTA New England is inspiring a new generation to stay in the game and to use what they’re taking in on the court now and apply it to their futures,” Roche said.