Sawgrass Bay Elementary tennis club

A local teacher has started an after-school tennis club to help students learn more and gain self-confidence.


What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Sheryl Cohn believes that tennis can help teach the students
  • The program began when one of her students asked her about her passion, tennis
  • She says she’s proud of everything her students have accomplished so far

Sometimes a simple conversation can inspire a whole movement. That’s what happened this year at a Lake County Elementary School.

After school, Sawgrass Bay Elementary academic support teacher, Dr. Sheryl Cohn, heads straight to the tennis corner of her room.

“I thought that would be a good thing to do and fell in love with the sport,” she said, explaining how she started playing tennis in college.

For Cohn, tennis became a lifelong sport.

“Tennis is really an important part of my life,” she said. “I play mixed doubles every Sunday morning and it’s a very social thing.”

Now, she has started to share her passion with the students at Sawgrass Bay Elementary. And it all started because of one of her fourth-grade students.

“He said to me, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you play tennis,'” Cohn said of the conversation. “I said ‘yes’ – I said, ‘Did you ever try?’ And he said, ‘No, that’s a rich person’s sport.’

‘I said,’ If I get you a racket, and I give it to you for free, would you try playing tennis with me? ‘ He said ‘sure,’ and the rest is history. “

The Junior Tennis Club in Clermont started serving up lessons in January with three students and two portable pickleball nets Cohn purchased.

“I felt for beginning elementary students, it would be better because they’d have more success going over the net,” she said.

She bought rackets, and her tennis friends donated rackets and balls, and the club quickly turned into a smash.

“For me, to share that love for tennis with other students is just a joy, absolute joy,” Cohn said. “They love it and I love watching them love it.”

Now the group is full, with 13 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. “Dr. Coach,” as she’s affectionately known, said every aspect of childhood development is covered – from socialization and sportsmanship, to other things useful in the classroom.

“What they’re figuring out is physics, angles, math,” Cohn said. “When they hit a ball and if they know they’re going to hit it on a 45-degree angle, they know where it’s going to go on the other side of the net.”

Andrea Webb plays basketball, but when she heard about the tennis club, she decided to give it a try.

“Should be fun, you know?” The 11-year-old said. “Can’t hurt to get a little bit more active. So then I joined, and I realized I was really good at it. “

Both the fifth grader and her younger brother, Dominic, are in the club, and it helps keep them busy.

“I know sometimes kids don’t have much of a thing to do – playing video games or things – and after school it’s a nice little thing you can do,” Webb said. “I encourage people to come to Sawgrass and be in Dr. Cohn’s tennis club. You might be amazing at a sport and you don’t even know it. “

The students also have a couple of assistant coaches who play tennis at East Ridge High School.

“Doing it through school gives them time to be active and just to try out different sports, because some kids don’t know what sports they want to stick to,” said assistant coach Janessa Kendrick. “So trying something out doesn’t hurt. . ”

Kendrick volunteers and receives community service credit, and she said she’s very impressed by what the students have already accomplished.

“I’m really proud of the group of kids,” she said. “A lot of the kids, they haven’t even held a racket before, so I think it’s pretty cool to see their growth and development from when they first started.”

For Dr. Coach, she hopes the club can expand with a third net. And she has big dreams of her tennis students hitting an ace in the future.

“That children continue to love tennis, go on, some of them get scholarships to college and if they make it to the majors, I want free tickets,” Cohn said.

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