Selma native keeps tennis going

Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SELMA — Bernard Sewell is the director of the Olean Underwood Tennis Center at Alabama State University and coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams.

When Sewell was asked to help with the Selma Department of Parks and Recreation’s summer tennis program, his answer was easy.

“It’s my home,” Sewell said. “I wanted to make a special effort to make it available to kids who wouldn’t normally see it.”

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Elton Reece, executive director of the Selma Parks and Recreation Department, said Sewell played an important part in continuing the summer tennis program.

“The person who had been teaching tennis moved away,” Reece said. “I approached Coach Sewell because I knew he was from Selma, and he said he would.”

Sewell — with the help of CHAT English teacher LaTonya Sullivan — works with a diverse group of youngsters.

Classes are 5:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 8-11 a.m. Saturdays.

“We’ve got a good group at all skill levels,” Sewell said. “We’ve tried to make it a positive experience for them. You’d be surprised how much they have progressed.”

He said the original plan was to work with a coach to train them so they could take over the summer program.

Sewell said even if Selma doesn’t produce any Arthur Ashes or Williams sisters, the exposure is important for the participants.

“It’s good just to get involved and learn about tennis,” he said. “They just need to know it’s available to learn in Selma.”

For more information about the summer tennis program or other activities, contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at 874-2140.