YouToo Tennis Volunteers Make a Difference to Kids with Autism



Senior and club president Audrey Lee coaches a YouToo participant.

Maia Phillips, News Editor

On the Potomac tennis courts last Sunday, kids ranging in age from 5 to 19 were running around our tennis courts, cheered on by Potomac Upper School student coaches. Some needed to be shown how to hold their racquets; while others jumped in joy when they had a rally of five shots. Potomac’s enthusiastic volunteers taught a range of skills and strokes, from backhands to volleys.

For the first time in three years, YouToo Tennis has been able to offer an entire six-week season. Since 2011, Potomac’s YouToo Tennis Club has partnered with the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, bringing together Potomac students and high functioning autistic kids in the area to play and learn tennis. Autism is a term that encompasses a spectrum of sensory and other challenges, and this program allows students with autism to get out and have a great time out of doors, while making new acquaintances. Potomac has been lucky to host this group on our campus.

The club, led by senior Audrey Lee this year, meets every Sunday to play tennis for an hour. The kids are provided a tennis racket and all necessary equipment, and the event is free of charge. 

The volunteers meet the participants where they are in terms of experience and ability. Kids improve their tennis skills, often starting with hitting the ball against the wall and then progressing to hitting across the net. More advanced players work on their volley and general consistency. Volunteers get to spread their love for tennis and learn valuable coaching and mentoring skills.

Freshman Sonali Sachdeva, an avid volunteer, says that their improvement on the court makes her “proud and happy” and she is excited at the prospect of continuing to volunteer next year.