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Sioux Falls teen hosts tennis camp for Spanish-speaking kids

todayJune 4, 2024 3

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 17-year-old Charlotte Crawford has been playing tennis for 10 years.

“My neighbor was the O’Gorman tennis coach and he would give me balls to play against my garage with and I just really liked the sport. So, then I got into tennis lessons and I just really liked it and wanted to continue playing,” Charlotte Crawford said.

As her love for tennis was taking off, so too was her passion for learning the Spanish language. It eventually led her to this summer, when she started her own tennis camp for Spanish speaking kids.

“I’ve noticed that there’s a huge opportunity to build the sport. And I’m also in the Spanish Immersion program, so I’ve been learning Spanish since kindergarten and kind of taking those two big passions of mine together and making a program that can help kids learn how to play tennis,” Crawford said.

Jugando Juntos, which means playing together in Spanish, was a free, 3-day camp held last week for ages 10 to 12.

“I think we could really take this somewhere new and really help the game of tennis and hopefully increase the level of girls and boys or the number of girls and boys in high school tennis, which has been lacking recently,” Crawford said.

But all this work wasn’t done on her own. Crawford had help from friends who play tennis and are also involved with the Spanish Immersion program.

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“She reached out to me and a bunch of other kids in the Spanish immersion or tennis players in the Spanish immersion and asked us if we’d want to coach in Spanish. And I feel like that’s such a fun opportunity, not only for the kids to learn, but also for us to get to teach,” Betsy Haft said.

From learning to serve to understanding scoring, the camp was taught almost entirely in Spanish. But Crawford and the coaches would also teach campers the English words for tennis terms.

“If they have any language barriers, Spanish definitely comes into play. But also with this program, I wanted it to be in Spanish, but also teaching English terms as well,” Crawford said.

Crawford’s aim for inclusion doesn’t stop there. Great Life, Match Pointe, and the City of Sioux Falls have agreed to award a few scholarships for campers to continue to play for the rest of the summer.

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“There are courts all over the world and all over the nation. So I really want them to just kind of learn the basics and if they like it, just continuing to pursue tennis and because it’s a great sport,” Crawford said.

“I feel like we just need more connections to the Spanish community in tennis, because I feel like sometimes it’s a little bit of a separation and I feel like we need to involve people in the Spanish community more in the sports that we play, and even activities on our team,” Haft said.

And with a vision like Crawford’s and a camp like Jugando Juntos, that goal is well on its way.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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