The 27th annual Kay McDaniel Summer Tennis Clinic, held at Lee University, concluded with nearly 400 participants. Children ages 6-13 came from 25 cities to learn from director Kay McDaniel and 43 other instructors.
According to Ms. McDaniel, participants not only learned how to play tennis, but were taught life skills and Christian principles that will impact their lives off the courts.
This year’s clinic theme was based on the Old Testament character, Nehemiah, who “brick by brick built the wall.” Participants heard how building that important wall would protect their land and took teamwork, prayer, and persistency. The clinic’s main verse for 2018 was “The joy of the Lord is my strength” from Nehemiah 8:10.
“These clinics are so meaningful, and I enjoy being with such precious kids and their families,” said Ms. McDaniel. “We all look forward to coming together each year. Some of my exceptional instructors have been with me for 10-17 years. About half of the participants each year are first timers, and it is a joy to welcome them into our family.”
The clinic concluded with a closing ceremony celebrating all the kids, but four distinctive awards were given to the most inspiring kids and instructors. The “Most Inspiring Head Instructor” award and the “Most Inspiring Junior Instructor” award went to a brother and sister team, Zach DeHart and Lexie DeHart. They are veterans of Ms. McDaniel’s clinics and together have participated and instructed for 16 years.
Britton Carter and Faith Hall received medals from Ms. McDaniel for their “Most Improved” tennis skills. Brianna Doley and Levi Lofton earned special “Most Christ-Like” medals for their “passionate play” and “compassionate hearts.” A TAIL tennis skirt that Ms. McDaniel wore while competing at Wimbledon was given to Danetta Giannourakis for her “Most Promising” talent, and a new tennis racket was given to Ben Sluder for his “Most Promising” tennis abilities.
Four people received the “Most Devoted Attendee” – Jake Brown, Christian Dennis, Petra Thompson, and Daci Wilbanks. All of them attended seven consecutive years at Ms. McDaniel’s clinics and will be back as junior instructors in 2019.
“We are awed with the life-long skills of tennis, exercise, and love of God the kids learned all week,” said a parent of participants. “Our sons have grown so much. They come home talking all about tennis, and they tell everyone around them about it. We can’t wait until next year.”
Ms. McDaniel is a former world ranked professional tennis player. She captivated her audience everyday 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 racket was a Green Stamp racket where Ms. McDaniel collected over 10,000 stamps to fill ten S&H books 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 Ms. McDaniel’s tennis coach and later an injury threatened her pro career until God miraculously healed it. She later realized 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. She won several professional tournaments and at the end of her career, she won the Concord Award for the “Fastest Serve in Women’s Tennis.”
For more information or to register for the 2019 Kay McDaniel Tennis Clinics (held June 3-7), visit www.kaymcdanieltennisclinics.com.
PHOTOS: (1) Kay McDaniel is pictured here discussing tennis with participants of the Girls Tennis Clinic earlier this month. (2) Group hug with Ms. Kay at the Boys Tennis Clinic. (3) A TAIL tennis skirt that Ms. McDaniel wore while competing at Wimbledon was given to Danetta Giannourakis for her “Most Promising” award.