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Rising Stars of Kentucky Provide Tennis and Life Skills for Juniors

March 14, 2008 10:35 AM

The Rising Stars of Kentucky were named the 2007 NJTL of the year by USTA. The program began in 1993 as a way for juniors to productively utilize their time and targets at risk youth and kids in low to middle class families. Since Jack Barton took over the program in 2003, the program has flourished growing from six children to 75 in just five years. The Rising Stars of Kentucky is more than just a program teaching kids to play tennis- they teach kids to become better individuals. Barton, a fellow tennis player, not only wants to give the kids in the program all the benefits of tennis that he never had, but also provides a healthy environment where they can unwind and interact with others. The 75 kids are broken up into two groups, the “Rising Stars” ranging from ages 10-18 and the “Little Stars” ranging from ages 4-9.

Every week before practice begins, the kids are asked if they have any accomplishment to share, whether it’s receiving an A on a math test or helping their parents out at home. After practice they finish with a life lesson. Jack wants the kids to incorporate the values learned from playing tennis and apply them to their every day life. Some of the values that have been instilled through the program are team work, sportsmanship, leadership, and dedication. Jack lives by the motto, “what good is it to be a great tennis player if you are not a good person.”

The Rising Stars put on events that benefit the community and this year they hosted a Health Fair. Health experts from around the area came out and performed free health tests to stress the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle.

On the court the Rising Stars also excel with several kids holding State and Southern USTA rankings. Two former players have gone on to play Division I college tennis.

The Risings Stars are not the average tennis program-they place a big emphasis on education. The average GPA of the kids in the program is a 3.0 and this year, the Rising Stars submitted more essays for the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest then any program in the Southern Section. In the past two years alone, they have had three winners that received the much coveted all-expense paid trip to New York City for Arthur Ashe Kids Day and Opening Day at the US Open Tournament.

Winning the NJTL program of the year is such a humbling experience for the Program Director, Jack Barton, who stated the achievements of the kids along with support from parents, volunteers and the Blairwood Racquet and Fitness Club have made the Rising Stars of Kentucky such a success.

To learn more about the Rising Stars of Kentucky click here to view a short video.




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