Update: October 2016
The Deschapelles tennis team attended the Federation Tennis Haitienne tournament in Port au Prince for boys and girls in the 12 and 14 year old categories on October 15 and 16. Saget Youdancie continued to show the quality of the play of the Deschapelles Tennis Team by winning her group. Kudos to Youdancie and her coaches, Walter Vertidort and Jude Luma, and to the other Deschapelles team competitors.
Update: September 2016
In mid-September, the Deschapelles Tennis Team hosted a Haitian Tennis Federation Tournament for the under-10 players who compete, like other international teams, on a short court. Seven teams participated. The Deschapelles tennis coaches organized the meals, and the Tennis Federation covered the costs of the meals and brought referees and supplies. Hospital Albert Schweitzer provided overnight housing for the visiting players with their coaches who had traveled to Deschapelles from Port au Prince. A real collaboration!
Deschapelles team members Christmaelle Auguste and Schnaider Jean Pierre both received third place prizes and Ykadjouna Youbain won her division.
Update: July 2016
Sister Cities Essex Haiti’s Club Tennis Deschapelles is busy now that school is out. They are continuing their training and have added a “ladder” system where players can challenge fellow players who are listed above them the ladder. They are also organizing a local tournament for their team members to take place at the end of July. The club received a wonderful gift of high quality strings from Solinco, an organization that produces high quality tennis equipment. They are proud to have the Solinco banner hanging on the wall. Thank you Solinco!!!
Update: March 2015
James Adler who has progressed from the Deschapelles Tennis Team to being accepted into the elite St. Louis Tennis Academy in Port au Prince is competing this week in the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Junior Davis Cup Tennis competition. 15 teams are competing. Adler is the one on the right. Kudos Adler!
Update: January 2013
By: Jenifer Grant
Two of the most important tools that Coach John DeLong offered a year ago were 1) more in-depth instruction to the Tennis Coaches to augment their tennis coaching skills and 2) the encouragement he gave them to continue their work with their youth program, “Club Tennis Deschapelles.” They now have 34 children in the program, 17 of whom are girls. They accept invitations from the Federation Tennis Haitienne to go to Port-au Prince for country wide competitions. And they almost always come out as winners or runners up. In the most recent Tennis 10 competition, the finalists were both from Deschapelles. They recently organized an adult tournament as well as a youth tournament at Deschapelles on their own initiative. In January 2013 they organized a small party to distribute certificates to all the children and coaches who had continued to participate in the tennis program. Walter, main coach and President of the Club Tennis Deschapelles, also gives lessons to some of the ex-pats who are working at HAS and the interaction between the foreigners working at HAS and the tennis group has become very positive. We also brought down donations of racquets, a good many the next level up for youth play which they had been so eager to receive, and grips and strings to keep the racquets they have in good shape. I had more time to spend with the Tennis folks this last trip. I managed to get up to the courts almost every day around 6:00 am to take lessons from Walter and also hit with other coaches. One morning the new CEO of HAS, Louis Martin an avid tennis player, and I had a one set match against Walter and Asnel. SCEH Vice President and Director Dan Taylor-Stypa, unbeknownst to me, had played on his college tennis team. He came up and hit balls with the youth and also played a one set match with folks there. The warm reception and the respect that we all give to each other is indicative of the second goal, to establish relationships.
Update: June 2012
By: Jenifer Grant
Tennis clinics had been canceled for the week we were there as all the students were taking exams. They did, however, participate in what we termed the “Coin D’Enrichissement.” We brought down some books geared to helping children learn to read – both skill books and books for pleasure. We also had some playing cards which are helpful in number recognition, order and addition. The program is geared toward youth in the tennis program who are not able to go to school, but many who joined are readers, which will make the adventure of learning to read an understanding number concepts more enjoyable for all. Each participant received a beautifully decorated Pringles can full of writing and art materials created by students at the Deep River Elementary School. The Tennis Committee is hoping to host the next tournament, inviting the other teams from Port au Prince and environs. To see the children opening the Pringles cans, please click here.
Update: April 14, 2012
By: Jenifer Grant
I was overjoyed to witness the ongoing tennis coaching which took place every afternoon. The Quick Start players have made great progress. Of the 30 students, 20 of them do not attend school. I brought down some excellent materials from Educavision, a publishing house in Florida, for the coaches to help students learn to read and write. The 20 children now all have “cahiers” (little notebooks) where they can practice their letters and learn to read. The best excitement was when they approached me saying they had a terrible problem: the problem was that they had received a call from Junior Etienne, the Haitian Tennis Federation Quick Start Coach, inviting them to bring four children under 12’s to a competition at their Tennis Center in Croix de Bouquets just outside Port au Prince on April 14. The “problem” was how would they get there, how many days, where could they stay, etc. It turns out they have a friend with a van who can fit in the 4 students and 4 coaches, and by pure chance or providence, friends of mine who used to work at HAS many years ago and now are in Port au Prince showed up as a surprise. They actually have a training center right in Croix de Bouquets which houses up to 50 people and there would be room for the tennis team if they need to spend the night. The youth and the coaches are very excited and are anticipating great victories.
Follow-up consists of continued coaching, perhaps opportunities for more competitions, and trying to find support for the project: transportation for Coach John DeLong to return to continue the coaching, both with individuals and groups, to find funding to pay for the competitions which includes transportation and sometimes overnight lodging and lunches, and to continue to bring down materials, especially tennis balls.
A SPORTS PROJECT IN RURAL DESCHAPELLES, HAITI
A collaboration among: Sister Cities Essex Haiti; its partner in Haiti, ODES; the Haitian Tennis Federation; U.S. Tennis Pro, John DeLong; and Hospital Albert Schweitzer
During the last week in December 2011, Sister Cities Essex Haiti and its volunteer partner in Deschapelles, Haiti, Organization Pour Development Economique et Social (“ODES”), will be coordinating the initial three-week phase of a sports project–focusing on tennis.
Sister Cities Essex Haiti and ODES work collaboratively to respond to requests from the community of Deschapelles for projects that can be long lasting and sustainable and provide opportunities for people from Essex and its surrounding communities to establish mutually meaningful relationships.
At the request of the existing Deschapelles Tennis Committee, John DeLong, a U.S.-based tennis pro/coach, and Jenifer Grant will travel to Deschapelles to initiate the program. John will be coaching members of the already skilled members of the Deschapelles Tennis Committee, young men who have learned to play tennis because the court is on the campus of Hospital Albert Schweitzer, and because they, like many young men in Haiti, they do not have steady jobs. They will benefit from tennis coaching to hone their skills. In addition, they have formed a “club de tennis” which consists of young children and teenagers, most of whom do not attend school because of a lack of funds. They are coaching the youth of the “club de tennis” because they identify with their need to find something worthwhile to do to make them feel worthy. John DeLong will coach these youngsters and also model the coaching for the Deschapelles Tennis Committee coaches so that they will be better able to coach youngsters. The Tennis Committee coaches will work collaboratively with John throughout the day to coach others such as the folks in Deschapelles who have racquets and know how to play but who are not yet strong enough to be part of the “club de tennis.” And in the afternoon, John and the coaches will work with total beginners, using the QuckStart Tennis equipment, (a type of mini tennis) and expanding to an existing basketball court and a corner of a soccer field.
Jenifer Grant, daughter of the founders of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and a founding member of Sister Cities Essex Haiti, will accompany John as translator and facilitator and will take advantage of this opportunity to improve her own tennis skills.
Patrick Blanchet, President of the Haitian Tennis Federation (Federation de Tennis d’Haiti), met with Jenifer Grant and Kathleen Maher in October in Port au Prince. Patrick is very interested in this program. He plans to travel to Deschapelles to visit the HAS facilities, and he has asked that two of his coaches in Port au Prince be able to attend the training sessions. He has also indicated that it might be possible for promising Deschapelles coaches to participate in training at the Federation’s facilities in Port au Prince as well as the possibility of inviting any unusually promising youth from Deschapelles to participate in their residential program just outside of Port au Prince.
Why is there a tennis court in Deschapelles? Good question. It is very unusual to have a tennis court in rural Haiti. Deschapelles is the site of an old Standard Fruit Banana Plantation. In the early 1900’s, the managers of the plantation lived in lovely plantation-style stone houses with beautiful interior mahogany paneling. They had a clubhouse, swimming pool and a tennis court. Sadly, around mid century, they abandoned the site due to a banana blight. In the 1950’s the Government of Haiti made this land available for the use of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, for as long as they continue to run a hospital there. The previous clubhouse is now the Community Health and Community Development office and the pool and several of the old “plantation” houses, used by resident medical staff, are enclosed in a separated area. The tennis court, however, is in an open area and enjoyed by local Haitians as well as the resident staff of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. It has recently been resurfaced.
For more information, call Jenifer Grant at 860-767-3530 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org