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Mantri Making a Difference Through ACEing Autism

ACEing Autism
January 5, 2015 02:04 PM
ACEing Autism
ACEing Autism
ACEing Autism

Aditya Mantri, a Columbus North High School tennis player (Columbus, Ind.), spent last summer playing and teaching tennis.  What made Mantri’s summer different is that he spent four weeks in July leading tennis clinics for individuals with autism.  The clinics were part of the non-profit tennis organization “ACEing Autism”, of which Mantri founded a Columbus-based location.

Mantri learned about the organization online and thought it might allow him to use tennis to benefit his local community.

“Initially, I just wanted to use my tennis skills to help others in my community,” Mantri said.  “Through research I learned that children with autism benefit from tennis in many different ways: it improves their athleticism, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and social skills.  With these benefits, and realizing that I was in a community that lacked a tennis programs for autistic kids, I knew I wanted to introduce ACEing Autism to Columbus.”

Mantri says the Columbus community has been supportive of the program and he’s had no shortage of volunteers.  And his connections at the high school helped secure courts for the program.

“My community has been very supportive of my endeavor and I am grateful for that.  Friends from my high school were eager to help me; they have become my enthusiastic volunteers,” said Mantri.  “To secure tennis courts, I spoke with Jim Stone, director of the facility, and to my high school tennis coach, Kendal Hammel.  Both were willing to support me and the program.”

Mantri also contacted Nancy Conner, the autism coordinator for his county, and spoke to pediatricians and the local newspapers to help promote the program as well.

“Nancy Conner greatly assisted me in spreading the word to the autism community.  I also spoke to pediatricians in town who could help share the news,” Mantri said.

The tennis clinics started on July 12 and continued for four weeks.  A general session included a warm-up, hand-eye coordination drills, ball-feeding, and a variety of different games.  But Mantri says that for this special group of athletes he had to change some things.

“We did have to adapt some drills.  For example, we use swing stands; they keep the ball in place and make it easy for the kids to make clean hits,” he said.  “It’s important for them to have success and realize they can do it.”

“Ultimately, my goal is to help these kids enjoy themselves and learn tennis in a low pressure environment,” said Mantri.  “The parents and I also want this program to enhance the social skills and overall fitness level of the kids.”

By pairing his love of tennis and his desire to help others in his community with the ACEing Autism organization, Mantri was able to introduce tennis to 12 young people through his summer program.  The next session takes place in January 2015.

“Tennis is wonderful for so many reasons.  It helps develop coordination; tennis players have to simultaneously adjust their arms and legs for every stroke,” explains Mantri.  “Tennis can also be a very social sport; this is especially true in a clinic setting.  But more importantly, tennis is a lot of fun!”




More about ACEing Autism
ACEing Autism was founded in 2008 by Richard Surling and Dr. Shafali Jeste in Boston, Mass.  Since then, more than 30 locations have formed around the country.  Visit http://www.aceingautism.com/ to learn more.

USTA/Midwest Adaptive Tennis
The USTA supports community-based tennis programs for a variety of different audiences.  Learn more about Adaptive Tennis programs online at http://www.midwest.usta.com/Community​-Tennis/programs/Wheelchair-and-Special-Population/adaptive/?intloc=headernavsub .