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Brooke and Campbell Hammond have turned their love of a sport into something special.

The sisters, ages 18 and 16, attend Christ Church Episcopal School but you can often find them on a tennis court. They love to compete but that spirit gets set aside when they play at Sterling Community Center, where they share their passion with younger children.

“We started teaching kids at the Sterling Center three summers ago, and we’ve been doing it every year since,” Brooke said.

“We go out and sometimes we practice, sometimes we play games and sometimes we have matches. I ask them what they want to do. They really like keeping score and playing matches. We have some kids that are there every single time and sometimes we have new kids.”

The sisters teach 10 to 15 children once a week during the summer. They saw a need and set out to meet it. Now, they get tennis balls donated by Greenville Country Club, Haviland Tennis Academy and the Kroc Center, and they enlist helpers when needed for the lessons.

“It’s just a little part of their day,” Brooke said. “It’s good to know I’m bringing something they can take with them. I get to see them every week. We started with an age group, I think third through sixth graders, but now it’s those who really want to play.”

Campbell Hammond, who is a sophomore, plans to continue teaching after her sister leaves for college.

“My favorite part of teaching the kids is just seeing how excited they are when you walk in,” she said.

Campbell said one of the children gave her a letter and made her a necklace, which let her know how much the lessons mean.

The sisters have been successful in getting tennis balls donated, but now they are turning their attention to some needed court repairs. Cracks in the courts allow grass to grow through and are impacting the surface.

They hope by sharing what they are doing that someone will step up and donate the materials and labor needed to fix the problem before it gets worse, allowing students to continue to spend part of their summer learning the sport.

Brooke said playing tennis and learning the sport through games and matches means more than just physical activity.

“Some of them are kind of timid and don’t want to try at first,” she said. “If I can get one-on-one with them and encourage them, the next thing you know, they are planning tennis four-square.”

Anyone interested in supporting the effort to revitalize the tennis courts is asked to contact Lawanda Curry at LCurry@greenville county.org or 864-676-2180, ext. 121.

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