Tamaqua alum Chelsea Jones no doubt uses her tennis skills to dust up the competition for Gywnedd Mercy College. Jones however, uses lessons learned from tennis for an even more important cause, volunteering for the "Touch of Tennis" special needs clinic.
"Touch of Tennis" is a free clinic that specializes in teaching tennis to those with special needs in the Gwynedd Valley area. The clinic is held at Gwynedd Mercy's courts every Wednesday for a seven week period and there are anywhere from 70 to 80 attendees in the age ranges of 18 through '65. The participants run through drills such as forehands, backhands, volleys, and serving.
"I remember I was so nervous going into the whole experience having no idea what my role would be, but then I saw one of the kids "get it" and there face just lit up", said Jones. "The look on their face was genuine happiness and from then on I was hooked."
Jones' skill set and resume more than qualifies her for the job.
"On the surface Chelsea isn't what you would call a tennis junky", said Gwynedd Mercy Head Coach Jim Holt. "Her will to win however is like nothing I've ever seen and she consistently beats more skilled players with her toughness."
Coach Holt was telling the truth, since being at Gwynedd Mercy Jones is 39-6 in singles competition and 33-10 in doubles which comes to a remarkable 72-16 overall record in the last two seasons. She also received rookie of the year honors her freshman year and the Griffins have won two straight CSAC titles along with qualifying for the Division 3 Tournament twice.
"It's great to see a kid from a small town come in and be successful in a very successful program", said Holt. "She's a very feisty kid."
The clinic originated in 1998 after the clinic's director Jim Holt who was coaching tennis and at the time working in the special education field blended the two together. Holt, a West Chester University grad serves as both the Men's and women's coaches at Gwynedd Mercy. Holt also received the National Adaptive Service Award from the USTA in 2010. The award is given to somebody who demonstrates excellence, dedication, and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.
"Winning that award was one of the more gratifying accomplishments of my career", said Holt. "The fact of knowing that I started the program and I didn't take it over from someone else or anything like that is what really makes me proud".
When it comes to serving it up on the court it seems Jones has no problem showing the opposition she means business. What really counts is how you serve it up when you know you can help others shine, and it looks like Jones has no problem with that either.