April 6th, 2015

Deland School Tennis Whiz Raney Gets Students, Disabled on Same Court with USTA Youth Equipment

Volunteer Of The Month General News Adult Tennis News Youth Tennis News Schools

Raney-VOMPhysical education cut-backs in schools have left many K-8 kids on the sidelines, and relegated sports such as tennis that were once played in gym class.

For Janet Raney of Deland, Fla., that was unacceptable.

In year one of her after-school tennis club at Southwestern Middle School, she used racquets and balls that were donated by her friends. Over the last two years the program was supplemented by equipment grants from USTA Florida.

Now the USTA Youth Tennis age-appropriate racquets, balls, nets and court sizes allow her students with and without disabilities to play together on the same court.

“It is amazing to watch the kids playing together and having fun,” she says. “Students who are developmentally delayed are able to hit the ball and participate with their non-disabled peers at a level that equalizes.”

Her students play after school on Mondays, and now also compete in an inter-school league she organized with other area middle schools.

“During the spring last year, I worked with a local tennis pro to organize an inter-school tennis league that meets on Thursdays, and I take the kids to the location,” she says. “And for the ones whose parents cannot provide transportation, I take them home.”

Raney says she has also benefited from USTA workshops focusing on teaching to young students, with a focus on keeping the game fun.

“This year, my kids are going to demonstrate some of the games I learned while at the developmental workshop during lunch time in the school cafe,” Raney says. “I am absolutely amazed at the dedication this kids are showing — they are having so much fun and want to share that fun with others.”

USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for East-Central Florida Molly Zimmer says that dedication is fostered by Raney’s big heart and love of the game — a game she only started playing in her 40s.

“Janet Raney has been working with the Southwestern Middle School tennis program for a number of years,” Zimmer says. “Her club is well run, and the players love their time on court.”

USTA Florida congratulates Janet Raney as the March 2015 Volunteer of the Month for her efforts to spread USTA Kid’s Tennis Clubs in Deland.

“It is heartwarming to see these kids enjoying tennis and looking forward to being part of a tennis club,” Raney says.

For more information on USTA Kid’s Tennis Clubs go to http://www.usta.com/Coaches-Organizers/kids_tennis_clubs.


Birthplace: Bethany, Ohio
Family: Husband, Warren; sons Howard, Donald, and Mathew; grandson, Alex; granddaughter, Arianna
Favorite Movie: Sound of Music
Favorite Food: Lobster tails
Favorite Travel: British Columbia
Favorite Shot: Backhand drop shot

My earliest tennis memory was…”At the age of 40 learning how to play tennis.”

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…”Positive, fun-loving tennis friends — although I might pick three of my kids because we have so much goofy fun!”

When I am not playing tennis I am…”Thinking about it!”

My best tennis memory is…”The first time I actually won a tournament — long, long time ago.”

I like to volunteer in tennis because…”I enjoy sharing the fun of tennis with the kids and watching them get excited about it.”