Tallahassee elementary school physical education teacher Shirley Proctor-Paul, a long-time tennis fan, has for years taken her students on an annual trip to the Tallahassee Challenger to expose them to the joys of watching live professional tennis.
Over the last year Proctor-Paul has ramped-up her volunteer tennis involvement, a move which also benefits her students. She completed training to become a Net Generation teacher, incorporating the official youth tennis product of the USTA into her PE classes.
Designed with PE teachers in mind, the Net Generation school curriculum is easy, customizable and designed for anyone, regardless of experience. Net Generation utilizes kid-sized racquets, balls and court sizes that get more advanced as players age 5-18 develop through skill levels, with an emphasis on fun rather than winning or losing.
“I was selected to represent the state of Florida as a Net Generation teacher to attend the teacher conference,” said Proctor-Paul of a trip to New York City during the US Open. “The workshop gave teachers the opportunity to meet with national leaders and discuss the Net Generation program. We had an opportunity to give input and share ideas — it was a exceptional opportunity to give feedback and see how the USTA valued the school programs.”
For the last eight years Proctor-Paul has taken her students to the Tallahassee Challenger where the children participate in on-court and community events in addition to watching future stars at the USTA Pro Circuit event.
“I always take the entire third grade class, usually 100 students, to Forestmeadows Tennis Complex,” she says of the annual trip. “The culmination is being taught by many tennis coaches on mini-courts led by Mrs. Anne Davis and Mr. George English of the USTA. All of the students’ teachers attend and some students’ parents attend. I let the parents also get involved by playing — this gives the parent an idea of what the students experience. It brings me great joy to watch my students enjoy and get real excited on the court as they learn and are taught by enthusiastic coaches.”
Proctor-Paul says she sees the students progress and develop skills in the Net Generation PE activities, skills that translate to the tennis court and play with their families and friends.
“It is amazing to watch their improvement,” she says. “The trip to Tallahassee ends with the students eating lunch at the facility and watching the professionals play. The students love seeing the pros play tennis, and this is many of the students’ and parents’ first opportunity for seeing a professional match. This is a wonderful opportunity to put application of the tennis curriculum being taught into real-life experience.”
USTA Florida thanks and congratulates Shirley Proctor-Paul as the August 2019 Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month for introducing tennis to Tallahassee students and families through Net Generation.
Birthplace: Baumholder, Germany
Family: Parents Edna and Willard; three sisters Barbara, Betty, Marilyn; and one brother Willard
Favorite Movie: Black Panther
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Travel: Paris
Favorite Shot: Forehand
My earliest tennis memory was…”seeing Arthur Ashe play on TV.”
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…”Venus and Serena Williams and Billy Jean King.”
When I am not playing tennis I am…”bowling.”
My best tennis memory is…”attending the US Open 2018.”
I like to volunteer in tennis because…”I like to see my students improve in their tennis skills.”