Ten o’clock Saturday morning finds many college students buried in bed, still groggy from celebrating the week’s end. But not College of Charleston freshman Emily Brown. At that hour, she’s already setting into tennis lessons with a rackety group of excited kids enrolled in The City of Charleston Recreation Department’s Courting Kids program. The youngest of the coaches guiding the Department of Recreation organization, Brown joined the ball crew last summer at the urging of her mother and Delores Jackson, who founded the charity in 1992 to introduce tennis to youth living in the inner city.
Volleying between carefully constructed lesson plans and games she dreams up on the fly, this enthusiastic 18-year-old holds court with some 100 participants each spring, summer, and fall. Brown starts with the basics: terms, lines, strokes, and footwork. “It’s amazing to see kids who’ve never before picked up a racket be able to hit and rally in just a few weeks,” she says.
Her classes also provide lessons in sportsmanship and teamwork, and of course, the teaching ace always emphasizes a good time, because Brown—who has played tennis since the age of four and captained the James Island Charter High School team her senior year—prefers to just have fun with the game. “It’s awesome that I get to start these kids out in a sport I love so much.” And for this MVP, that’s a home court advantage worth waking up for.