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Tennis Players Team Up with Buddy Up for Down Syndrome

Tennis Players Team Up with Buddy Up for Down Syndrome

The Carnegie Mellon University men's and women's tennis teams gathered 22 players and three coaches to participate in the Buddy Up for Down Syndrome Tennis, Fitness and Fun program (Buddy Up).

The teams participated in the Buddy Up program on alternating Saturdays from January 18 through March 1 at The Club Sport and Health center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, the very same facility that the Carnegie Mellon tennis teams use to practice and compete during the indoor season.  The facility in Monroeville is the third place in the country to host the Buddy Up program, first launching the program in September of 2011.

"The overall experience was great. It was fun working with the kids. They were really excited. This program was something new to me so it was a nice learning experience as an athlete," said sophomore men's tennis player, Abhishek Alla.

According to junior women's tennis player, Bryn Raschke, tennis was a great way for the two teams to connect with the Buddy Up participants.

"To see the participants of the program having so much fun playing a sport we all love was an awesome experience," Raschke said. "It was fun to get excited about their successes and to challenge them a little when they became too good for a drill."

The goal of the Buddy Up program is to provide the opportunity for participants to join a team, improve motor skills, enhance coordination, grow emotionally, develop social skills and have a lot of fun in the process.

Each member of the two tennis teams served as a buddy to participants of the program.  Their role was to work with one or two athletes throughout the clinic, keep the athlete on task and engaged, and most importantly make sure they are cheering them on and having fun in the process.

"Teaching these players the basics and seeing the enthusiasm they possessed gave us all a sense of appreciation for the skills we have been able to develop as well as the enjoyment the sport can bring," said junior men's tennis player Bryce Beisswanger.

Even the coaches were extremely involved in the Buddy Up program.

"What an incredibly rewarding experience," said head men's and women's tennis coach Andy Girard.  "The pure happiness and joy from the youth who participated in this event was immediately transmitted to our players and staff and then reflected back."