by Nikki Kay
LOS ANGELES — Three high school students — Jacob Eusebio, Andy Loughran '22, and Natalie Rodriguez — created the tennis program Serving Advantage as a nonprofit designed to make the sport more accessible to kids with developmental challenges.
Together they developed a curriculum to help kids learn the basics of tennis and build a connection not just with the game, but with peers as well.
What You Need To Know
- Serving Advantage is a nonprofit program designed to make tennis more accessible to kids with developmental challenges
- The program was founded by three high school students who play tennis
- High school volunteers who help coach during the clinic attend training sessions to be prepared as "peer buddies"
- Serving Advantage hosts multiple tennis clinics every month at Veteran's Sports Park in Tustin.
Eusebio, whose brother Evan has autism, said he remembers when he first played with his brother two years ago.
“When he got on the court, that was something that we never really got to do before because Evan and I have never really been able to do anything together,” said Eusebio.
Eusebio's friends saw firsthand how his relationship with his brother changed for the better, and it impacted them too. Loughran has known Eusebio since preschool, and Natalie Rodriguez met him in third grade.
“I think it was eye-opening for me, as well as Natalie, to see the impact that sport can have on relationships,” said Loughran.
"I think in the beginning, we wanted to bring that connection that Jacob and his brother had on the court, and then after our first summer camp, it’s hard to step away once you see those smiles," said Rodriguez. "It’s really amazing once you see all the hard work you put in and then see it come to fruition on the court."
The three high school tennis players saw a need for adaptive programs for kids like Evan and found a way to make a difference in other kids’ lives together. The three have recruited other tennis players from across the Tustin High School district to come volunteer as well.
Serving Advantage hosts multiple tennis clinics in Tustin and Anaheim each month, along with camps planned for the summer. To learn more about the nonprofit, visit here.