Tennis Oggi

With a national champion among its staff of volunteer instructors, the Moving On Up With Tennis program returns to Forest Park for clinics this summer.

Judy Dixon of Amherst, who recently won the U.S. hardcourts senior singles and doubles titles in the 70s division, will be back with Moving On Up. She has been part of its teaching staff since her retirement as UMass tennis coach in 2017.

The staff includes college coaches and local tennis players, who offer free lessons to young people in the 6-to-18 age group.

“Families gathering, taking pictures, supporting their children and visiting with each other during the clinics — it’s wonderful to see,” Dixon said. “These clinics not only teach tennis, they highlight life skills. Year after year, I see the same kids return, and meet new children as well. For me, it’s a case of giving back to a sport that has given me so much. Moving On Up is a heart connection.”

From experienced players looking to improve to beginners wanting to learn more, all skill levels are welcome to the clinics.

MOU will offer two sessions at Forest Park. The first runs July 6-9 and July 12-15. The second session runs July 19-22 and July 26-29, all from 9 to 11 a.m.

Players are asked to wear tennis shoes and a hat, bring water or a sports drink, and a racket.

MOU staff will have limited rackets available.

The clinics incorporate general techniques for forehand, backhand, volley, serve and overhead as well as footwork drills and fun games. Each day will highlight a stroke while building on the prior day. The last 20 minutes will be devoted to supervised play for fun games that help the participants learn tennis scoring and the value of sportsmanship.

“I’m very excited to offer this program for our community’s youth,” MOU co-founder Pat Murry said. “It provides kids with a chance to stay active, improve confidence, and have a sense of accomplishment.”

COVID protocols mandated at the time of play will be followed. For more information, or to register, visit Movingonupwithtennis.org. Registration ends June 29.

AIC ON TRACK: It was another stellar spring for the American International College’s track team, led by two dedicated runners from Kenya.

Sophomore Ezra Mutai won a national NCAA Division II championship in the 10,000-meter run — college track’s longest race. Although it was a distance grind, it ended with a sprint to the wire as Mutai nipped Isaac Harding of Grand Valley State by .22 seconds.

With that victory, Mutai became the first Yellow Jacket to win a national title in both cross country (2019) and track and field.

Meanwhile, AIC senior Leakey Kipkosgei finished his collegiate career with an eighth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, thus earning his 15th All-America rating, those coming in cross country and indoor-outdoor track.

AIC’s first national title was won in 2012 by Dominic Smith in the 400-meter dash at the 2012 indoor nationals. Kipkosgei was part of the next national title for AIC, in his freshman campaign in 2016, as the distance medley relay team won the gold medal. Kipkosgei won one of his own three years later, in the steeplechase.

Track was added to AIC’s varsity sports list by Vincent Maniaci soon after he became the college’s president. He also oversaw the addition of an outdoor track to AIC’s athletic complex. Maniaci will retire in the spring of 2022.

Leo Mayo, who served as AIC coach of men’s and women’s track since those programs began in 2006, recently moved on to Wesleyan University, where he will coach men’s/women’s cross country.

VOICE OF KRAKEN: Springfield native John Forslund, considered among the elite of hockey broadcasters in North America, will take his talent and his voice to Seattle, where he will serve as main play-by-play man for the Seattle Kraken, an expansion team making its NHL debut in October.

Forslund lately has been heard broadcasting playoff hockey for NBC. At the NHL level, he broadcast Hartford Whalers games, then moved with them when they became the Carolina Hurricanes,

Forslund played hockey at Cathedral High School and baseball at Springfield College. His broadcasting career began in 1984, when he became lead voice of the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League. He stayed with the Indians through 1991, before becoming public relations director for the Whalers.

Forslund’s signature goal call — “Hey, hey, whaddya say?” — served him well with the Calder Cup-winning Indians of 1990 and ’91 and the Stanley Cup-winning Hurricanes of 2006.

So now he has the Kraken (a mythical sea monster). Should be a very interesting hockey season in the Northwest.

LOCAL BASEBALL: Baseball fans in the Connecticut Valley have two collegiate teams to follow this summer.

The Valley Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League play their home games at Mackenzie Stadium, Holyoke. The Westfield Starfires of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League have Billy Bullens Field as their home.

The Blue Sox have gotten off to a good start, carrying a 7-3 record into the weekend. They visit Mystic, Connecticut, today, then play Bristol, Connecticut, in a home game Sunday at 5:05.

The Starfires have a 6-9 record, but have shown firepower lately. They next play at home on Wednesday, facing the Pittsfield Suns.

THE FLAHIVE WAY: Jimmy Flahive, a left-handed relief pitcher from Longmeadow, recently completed his season at AIC (2-0, 3.77 ERA) and now can be found in the bullpen of the Utica, New York, Blue Sox.

Utica plays in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which has 14 teams, all in New York state. Flahive has made four appearances, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA.

He’s looking for his fourth summer college baseball championship after winning titles with the Onondaga Flames of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures League, and Worcester Bravehearts of the Futures League.

He has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining, and will return to AIC as a graduate student in the master’s of business program in the fall.

TODAY’S TRIVIA: What is the longest span for a golfer between his first and last victories in the U.S. Open? Answer: 18 years, for Jack Nicklaus. He first won it in 1962, last won it in 1980 at the age of 40. He also won the U.S. Open in 1967 and 1972. Only three others have won it four times — Willie Anderson (1901-03-04-05). Bobby Jones (1923-25-29-30) and Ben Hogan (1948, 1950-51-53).

BEST BET for the weekend: I’m So Anna, in the Melair Stakes at Santa Anita.

Garry Brown can be reached at i">>geebrown1918@gmail.com.

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Source : https://www.masslive.com/sports/2021/06/moving-on-up-with-tennis-program-adds-national-champ-judy-dixon-of-amherst.html

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