Whether you're an amateur or pro, young or old, the Lawrence Tennis Assn. has an opening for you.
The association, which has about 75 members, is a "community tennis association, aimed at promoting tennis for juniors and adults," said Michael Center, director.
Tennis players, especially ones new to the community, often have a difficult time finding classes at a reasonable price.
The association "tries to help people communicate better," Center said. "We give names, telephone numbers and references. We also offer family or single memberships."
Players who join pay a modest fee and get an LTA T-shirt and a membership directory.
LTA was the perfect way for Marta Rocha to find tennis partners and make friends after moving to Lawrence from Argentina, where she played tennis regularly.
"THIS IS A way to meet people," said Rocha, whose 10- and 12-year-old children attend LTA classes. "It's a really nice way to get involved."
It's also a way for people who can't afford lessons at a private country club or the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department to get involved in tennis, said Cynthia Lartigue, LTA president.
She added that scholarships were available for players who needed financial assistance, and Center said, "We want to attract all tennis enthusiasts and give everybody an opportunity to get involved."
The association gives tennis players, or soon-to-be tennis players, the opportunity to take classes for a modest fee, play in leagues or volunteer as teachers.
Rocha volunteered last winter to teach at the junior level, which she said she really enjoyed and planned to do again this winter.
CLASSES ARE taught at the junior level (ages 8 to 18) and the adult level. Class fees cover a U.S. Tennis Assn. membership and a T-shirt, and the balance goes to defray association expenses.
The group often provides balls and racquets to its members, which must be purchased if donations do not cover such costs, and pays printing costs for the monthly members' newsletter, done with assistance from the city's parks and recreation department.
"Parks and Recreation have been very supportive of us," Center said. "They have more resources and we're trying to work together."
Lartigue agreed with Center and also stressed the need for more volunteer support.
"The Lawrence Tennis Association is in dire need of volunteers," Lartigue said. "The people we have are strained." The association has many people who volunteer in the summer at tournaments but only five year-round volunteers.
"IT'S ALL ABOUT volunteers," she said. "It's the only way we've been able to come this far."
The association now is busy preparing the annual Lawrence Open tournament, scheduled for June 19-21 at the Lawrence Tennis Center, 21st and Virginia, a local facility that the association helped raise funds to build.
Anyone interested in registering can contact Center in Room 217 at Kansas University's Allen Fieldhouse or call him at 864-7909.
LTA volunteers also have been helping with the summer National Junior Tennis League, which is sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department. Rocha's children have taken advantage of NJTL and recently participated in a regional rally in Kansas City, Mo.
Lartigue said, "We've received lots of funds and support from USTA, especially with the NJTL programs."
The association also is sponsoring adult leagues three nights a week at the tennis center. The men's leagues are on Tuesday nights, the women's leagues are on Wednesday nights and mixed doubles are on Friday nights. Anyone interested in playing in the leagues can just show up and play from 7 to 9 p.m.; no registration or fee is necessary.
For more information about the association, contact Center.