PHOTOGALLERY:Players Club Cares brings tennis to Everglades City

For five days Everglades City area kids learned about tennis and some life lessons, thanks to members of the Players Club & Spa at Lely Resort.

They also enjoyed lunch at the Seafood Depot and a swim each day at the Everglades Rod & Gun Club.

It marked the third year that Dennis Rager, Players Club & Spa head tennis professional, under Players Club Cares, gave kids the opportunity to learn about tennis, with the goal of showing how tennis can help change their lives.

The 18 participants came from Everglades City, Chokoloskee, Plantation and Copeland. Rager partnered with Helen Bryan, director of Reach Out Everglades.

In 2008 and 2009 the Players Club partnered with the Eagle Creek Country Club to provide the program to Manatee Middle School kids.

At Everglades City the age group ranged from 6 to 17.

Members of the Players Club tennis program contributed tennis rackets, while club members donated funds to cover the overall program.

For the past two years the program has been called the Neil Birch Memorial Kids Tennis Camp, after the person who supported the club’s efforts to expose less fortunate children to tennis.

This year, Birch’s wife Helen purchased tennis shoes for the participants.

“The Niki shoes and rackets were quite the treat,” Bryant said. “The kids were really thrilled, like getting Christmas early.

She hopes that the program will “in some way, convince a youth that he too can enjoy our local tennis courts with a tennis buddy and grow to love it now that they are well equipped.”

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