"I think it's a really cool opportunity since the U.S. Open is very different this year," Stephens says of the program. "This is something that we can all get behind and it's for a good cause. And it's something we're all super passionate about — helping junior tennis and NJTL chapters and with the USTA. I'm super excited to be a part of it."
Since it was founded seven years ago, Stephens' organization has focused on supporting after-school tutoring, education, the adoption of healthy lifestyles, and improved physical fitness for young people.
"Tennis has given me an amazing opportunity in life, so many opportunities to travel the world and meet people," Stephens says. "I think we should all be giving back to junior tennis and people who are looking to play the game. To those who don't want to because they think tennis is too expensive, or think you need a coach or whatever it is."
According to the USTA Foundation, the NJTL network includes over 250 nonprofit youth development organizations that offer free or affordable tennis and education programs around the country. The groups benefit over 160,000 youth every year.
"They provide coaching, they provide fitness and tutors and all of these things," Stephens says. "I think it's really important to get behind youth tennis and especially youth in sports, girls in sports. That's something that NJTL is very passionate about, and I think this initiative speaks to that … I think at this time, it's amazing to be able to support things and also get kids moving and going and playing tennis."
Supporting these programs is especially important to Stephens, as she benefitted from them while pursuing her tennis passion as a child.
"I grew up playing in an NJTL across the street from my house. That's why I'm super passionate about grassroots tennis and developing the game is because I was one of those kids who came out of parks and rec and NJTL," she says. "I was one of those kids who just loved the game and loved tennis because I had a really amazing first coach. Without NJTL and these programs, there might not be more of me. I think by supporting them, creates an opportunity to make kids like myself."
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
Source: Read Full Article