About six years ago, Mike Mellison and Greg Gonzalez (The nephew of the late, great Pancho Gonzalez) expressed interest in carrying on Pancho’s legacy by teaching tennis to the kids at Neighborhood Ministries.
For those who don’t know Pancho, he would have identified with many of the kids we serve. He used tennis to rise above his circumstances, practicing in city parks from a young age, to become one of the best tennis players in the world.
Thankfully, the Pancho Gonzalez Foundation and the United States Tennis Association offered their support for the program by providing funds to purchase nets, rackets and balls. With help from Catalina Vasquez, the tennis program was launched as part of our Monday Night Kids program. Today, the program continues to grow. There are currently 19 kids participating; one of the first now plays on the Metro Tech High School team! Mike and Greg use the time on the courts to teach more than tennis. Christ-centered values and life lessons are mixed in with backswings and backcourt strategy, while they encourage the kids to be the best they can be in all they do. All the students know they are loved and valued.
In addition to the Monday Night Program, kids with interest and ability are selected to receive weekly tennis lessons at Encanto Park. Each Saturday afternoon, Greg and Mike pick the kids up at their homes to take them to the park for lessons. Thank you, Mike and Greg, for providing such a positive outlet for our kids and for using Pancho’s legacy to inspire them to reach higher!