The 23rd annual Kay McDaniel Summer Tennis Clinic had over 400 registered participants, the most in the history of the event. The week was filled with free tennis lessons, prizes, certificates, group photos and special medals presented along the way. Kids ages 6-13 came from 25 cities in Tennessee to learn from the director Kay McDaniel and her staff of instructors. Ms. McDaniel is a former world-ranked professional tennis player.
Ms. McDaniel captivated her audience by sharing inspiring personal stories of how she overcame difficult obstacles to reach the top echelon of professional world tennis. From age 11 she dreamed of becoming a professional tennis player. Her first tennis racquet was a Green Stamp racket where McDaniel collected over 10,000 stamps to obtain it. Her mother sewed all her tennis clothes until age 15 when top sponsors, such as Fila, Adidas, TAIL and Nike sponsored her tennis career. An early setback was the death of her tennis coach and later an injury threatened her pro career until God miraculously healed it.
Ms. McDaniel went on to realize her dream by competing at tennis Grand Slams for six years against legendary players such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf. She rose to the top 35 in the world in singles and held a #20 world ranking in doubles.
This year’s clinic theme was based on Genesis 39:2, “God was with Joseph.” Ms. McDaniel emphasized the importance of not giving up on your dreams.
“Since we had so many kids we needed quality instructors, and this year we had 42 strong and committed instructors.” said Ms. McDaniel. “They return year after year, volunteering their time to this event. They are the real heroes of these clinics. I could not put this event on without their hard work.”
Some of the awards given at the closing ceremony went to Caleb Hiddleson, a junior from Lee University who won the “2014 Most Inspiring Head Instructor” award for his exceptional work with the kids. Drake Reece received the “2014 Most Inspiring Junior Instructor” award for his hard work and service to the clinics.
Daci Wilbanks and Tarrik Hamidi received medals from Ms. McDaniel for their “2014 Most Improved” tennis skills. Jonathan Anziano and Faith Lombard each earned the “2014 Most Christ-Like” medals. A special TAIL tennis skirt that Ms. McDaniel wore while competing at Wimbledon was given to Katelyn Lee for her “Most Promising” talent and a new tennis racquet was given to Brayden Conn for his “Most Promising” tennis abilities.
The “Most Devoted Attendee” award went to Elias Corder who has attended Ms. McDaniel’s clinics for eight consecutive years - the most years possible. For the girls, Mary Elizabeth Nerren and Hannah Evans have both attended seven years.
After the award ceremony, a parent commented “This is an unbelievable experience for our community. Ms. Kay loves these kids and it shows in everything she does. Everyone was so motivating, caring, and high-spirited. We will be back every year!”
Another couple said of the clinics, “What an encouraging environment. Everything was so organized and the kids just love Ms. Kay’s stories. She inspires us all!”
Ms. McDaniel commented, “I want to thank Lee President Dr. Conn for his generosity and support of these tennis clinics. It’s a joy to give back to this wonderful game and to serve Christ to Cleveland and all the surrounding communities.”