Skip to main content

tv   4 Your Sunday Viewpoint  NBC  April 23, 2017 5:30am-6:00am EDT

5:30 am
good morning. i'm pat lawson muse. the game of tennis can open up a whole new world for innercity and underserved youngsters and that's exactly what two groupst. their combined efforts help local youngsters get into the game and win both on and off the court. our guests this morning is a high school senior at northwestern high school, part of the program since he was four. and also we have president of the washington tennis and education foundation. and we also have vice president of programs for the foundation. he's past president of the american tennis association. he's also arthur
5:31 am
doubles partner. thanks for being with us. i have to ask you about the biggest tennis news of the week. just your reaction to learning that serena williams is expecting. a lot of people are saying what about tennis. what is your reaction? >> i would say it's wonderful news for her and there have been other players, including chris evert and others that have kids and they come back and do well. so i think it's great. >> i think that is a nice way to sum that up. the washington tennis and education foundation has put many youngsters on the road to success in tennis and in life. tell us about some of your programs. >> so basically we use tennis as a hook to get kids through the door and then our focus is really on education. we have three main programs. our center for excellence program, kids from kindergarten to 12th grade where we're providing tennis and
5:32 am
academic programs. and what we find very important to have that continuity for the kids. you introduce desire. he started at four. we really feel it's important to start kids young and stand with them year after year until they're seniors in high school. and we have our arthur ashe children's program that helps to feed into our center is for excellence program. and at our new center, we started a tots program for two, three and four year olds which leads in on the other programs. >> willis, tell us about your -- i'd love to hear about your whole life, but we only have half an hour. you played with one of the greats of the game. how did that happen? >> well, it was a very small world in tennis during those days because it was still seg gra gated. so even though arthur played in richmond and i was in washington, we were very close together because we would go to richmond to play tournaments, he wo
5:33 am
most of the american ten nation associati tennis tournaments,seaboard. so when you competenation tennis tournaments, they were on the eastern seaboard. so when you compete with somebody so much, you get to know them pretty well. >> how did tennis impact your life? >> well, i guess i am what i am today because of tennis. i didn't pretty much care for tennis when i started playing. you played all sports. tennis you really had to get into it. but not until i found out that tennis can help these innercity kids with their lives, to help them find a better life and to learn all of the things that you need to win on the tennis court, you can do that when you're in the classroom, also. >> young people all the over the region and world look at players like the williams sisters and arthur ashe before them and they say i want to do that,
5:34 am
be like that. what are your tennis dreams. >> right now i'm planning do well in college and become the best i can be. >> and what has tennis done for you? you started brpretty much as so as you were big enough to pick up a racquet. you and your sisters. >> yes, me and my three sisters. >> was it something your parents did, did you just say -- well, you were kids, so you probably didn't really have a choice, but how did you all get in to tennis? >> my father coached at the foundation for a very long time. his name is james johnson. and that's how we got. >> tointo it. >> and did you like it? >> yeah, i love it and my sisters, too.aid
5:35 am
>> did you have a desire to get to the top ranks or just part of what you did? >> just part of my life and helped me get into college for this fall. >> okay. we'll talk more about where you're going this fall. we'll take a break and we'll be right back.
5:36 am
y2c5py y16fy
5:37 am
welcome back. we're talking tennis this morning. willis thomas, tell us more about the american tennis association which promotes blacks in tennis. >> yes. american tennis association is an organization that was formed during segregation. we couldn't play in the white tournaments, so we formed our own organization and started to play our own tournaments amongst ourselves. one thing i must say, we were open to everybody. even though we could not play in usta
5:38 am
tennis association events, but we allowed anybody to play in our events. so it's been going on since 1916. they have a tournament every year in different parts of the country. and wtf takes kids there every year. >> and you have 10,000 members, 200 plus? >> well, they have that many. it goes back to the old days. you have some people in the cities who are still there and they still consider themselves the head evof that club in that city. >> many of your students get to go to the tournament. >> it's actually a very big part of what we call our college prep program. we believe college prep starts literally fourth and fifth grade and we take the kids every year, the kids that can play the matches. a and i know kids think that they have a really good time, but one of our main goals is
5:39 am
them to college. they stay in college storm dorm visit college campuses. chicago, tennessee and vanderbilt and tcu, miami last year when they were in ft. lauderdale. so it's a very big part of our program. >> and do a lot get to rub shoulders with some of the big names in tennis? >> yes, we have a pro tournament each year up at our site and of course our kids are a big part of that event and they love it because they have their little badges and they can run around and they look at that tournament as their own. >> have you been? >> yes. >> and? >> i enjoyed it. it was a wonderful experience to actually see players play in person instead ever watching them on tv. >> despite efforts to diversify on tv. >> despite efforts to diversify, you have few
5:40 am
in the top ranks. of course the williams sisters. and also someone from college park. where are the others and why are there still so few at that level? >> i think the programming is not there. they have a lot of grass roots programming. but to get kids to the high levels, it takes a big effort. and i think they tend to take the better kids. and at that time of the -- the better kids seemed to be of the white race. we tend to mature a little later and we were hoping that the programs would come along that would allow us to play even late into our life, even though we weren't that successful early in life. but they take the -- if you're good early, then generally you have a chance to be very good to be a pro. >> talking about the grass roots, less th
5:41 am
programs now are african-american. about 14% are latino. what do you think is the key to getting those numbers up, turning those numbers around? >> i think it's important similar to what we did, which is having facilities in the low income communities. we used to bus kids up from northeast and southeast up to our facility at 16th street. we had far fewer kids in our program. now we built the center in southeast, we knew it was important to be right in the neighborhood so kids can easily come. we've doubled the number in our center for excellence. we created the new tots program. so we've exposed tennis to so many more kids. our summer program, 120 kids during the school year, 150 in the summer, 300 tots. so i think you really have to build facilities and expose them right in their communities and not make them travel. >> you all grew up
5:42 am
play in tournaments? >> yes, we played just about every week, we played a lot of tournaments. >> did your parents every say i want you to player more, practice more, some day you'll be like arthur ashe? >> no, no pressure. mostly i pressure myself to get better. and coaches at the foundation also. >> okay. so how good are you? >> i like to think that i'm pretty good. >> he got to the finals last year, almost won it. national championship. >> you weren't going to bring that up. so you're also modest. >> yes, he is. >> i wish we could see you play here. we'll have to watch you play in person. when you get out of school she says. we'll take a break and be right back. stay with us.
5:43 am
5:44 am
stand up to chronic migraine. talk to a headache specialist today. welcome back.
5:45 am
rates and your graduation rates as the foundation. you place a very heavy emphasis on academic excellence and many of your students do very well academically. >> they do. we have a wonderful cadre of teachers and staff, teachers and coaches and using a lot of retired folks who spent their whole lives educating kids. so the kids in our program are at grade level in reading. 70% are at grade level in reading. 80% at grade level in math. and that is unfortunately compared to d.c. rates of only 17% of kids at grade level in reading and math. we test each child and put them on an individualized plan in both reading and math. the staff makes it interesting and fun. it's a vol unit takuntary progrt we have a retention rate of 75%. thera
5:46 am
after school programs is only 45%. so i give all the credit to willis and his staff. it's amazing the environment and the loving, caring but tough love atmosphere that they create for the kids to keep coming back. >> and is it all those things and also tennis that makes them do so well and pursue excellence in academics? is it intertwined, if they are doing well in the classroom and playing tennis, too, they sort of feed off each other? >> i think they do. it feeds off each other. we work very closely with the educators and educators work with the tennis coaches to get the most out of a child. but they work very closely together. >> the discipline that is involved in playing tennis i would think would translate to academic performance. >> no doubt about it. the focus, learning how to put things out of your mind that has
5:47 am
nothing about, but you must carry on. and i think when you're taking a test, you run up again tough questions and sometimes you can kind of lose it. but denny tennis teaches you if lose it, you lose the point. so i have to stick in here and get this question, i know i can do it. so it's an individual sport. in d.c. schools, they don't play many individual sports. track and field maybe. so tennis brings that individual sport. it's not -- i mean most private schools have tennis courts. some of the schools that put in arthur ashe programs, they love to say that they have tennis at their school, like they're really up with the big wheels. >> you are a champion at prince george's county. tell us about these accomplishments. >> for about three years now, i've been -- i'm the
5:48 am
district champion of my county and for two years the regional champion of my county. and i've qualified for states three years in a row. >> that's fantastic. >> thank you. >> congratulations to you. let me ask you this, how do you feel about school and just pretend they're not listening? i mean did you like the academics or did you tolerate academics? i mean are you as interested in school as you are in tennis? >> i do enjoy school. i work hard at it because i know that because i worked hard at high school and working hard at high school and education will help me get to college. >> and you plan to go to college in the fall, correct? >> yes. >> where are you going? >> i received a full scholarship to attend john c. smith university in north carolina. >> congratulations again. >> thank you. >> and ma
5:49 am
you said get scholarships. >> sometimes tennis, sometimes academics both. >> and sometimes both. while the racial barriers have come down, the financial barriers are still there for african-american youth like desire. court rentals court, one-on-one lesson, the equipment, travel. and many underserved families can't afford that. so what are associations like yours and foundations doing to try to reduce some of those barriers to help the children get in? >> well, we wish we could just give them all the money they need to be the best they can. but we can't do that. what we do is we provide tournaments and other ways for them to further their game. i don't think that the main reason is to make a cio
5:50 am
tennis, it's pretty difficult. not many champions. but you can become a champion in other things. and i think that is the way we really help them. >> well said. and wield e'll be right back.
5:51 am
happiness is powerful flea and tick protection from nexgard. nexgard kills fleas and ticks all month long. and it comes in an easy-to-give tasty chew. and that makes dogs and owners happy. no wonder vets love it too. reported side effects include vomiting, itching, diarrhea, lethargy and lack of appetite. see your vet for more information on flea and tick protection
5:52 am
the vet's #1 choice. the washington tennis and education foundation has a big day coming up soon. next month in fact. it's your annual tennis ball? >> it's one of our most important fundraisers of the year. the programs that we've all described, they are all free of charge. and so sponsoring and coming to the tennis ball really helps the lowest income kids in d.c. so may 19th on our website to get sponsorships, tickets. we are honoring the american tennis association for its 100th year anniversary of the tournament. ken solomon who is the prest
5:53 am
channel, is a big sponsor. and also number one doubles player in the world, fantastic grouphonorees. so we encourage everybodyth. >> and the kids go? >> we get different outfits for them and it's just a highlight. >> and tell us more about the 100th anniversary of the tournament. >> yeah, this is the 100th anniversary of the american association tournament. it will be held july 30th to august 5th in baltimore, maryland where the first championship was held in 1916. so i think it's a great thing. >> and what will the highlights be? >> the highlights will be all of the
5:54 am
speeches and hopefully all of the old folks will come back for this momentous occasion. >> who are the old folks? >> got another 30 minutes? >> and what advice would you give to young people who want to play tennis but who also want to succeed in life? what are some of the lessons that you've learned? >> you got to put -- you got to dedicate a lot of time to what you want to be good in even on the court or in the classroom. and you have to be very determined to be great. >> there are a lot of young men like you who play basketball. do you play basketball? >> no. but i played ifabfootball for m school. >> football and basketball are good with. tennis is great. but a lot of athletes get
5:55 am
do you ever think about? >> yeah, i think about that a lot. that's why i spend a lot of time with my education because i know that your athleticism and whatever sport you play could be taken away in a second. >> that is your focus. what are your part thinkiing woe of advice to young people like him and parents who may want to pursue tennis interests for their children? >> tennis is a fantastic sport. we talk about it being a sport of a lifetime. you can play throughout. but it's as desire said so beautifully, you have to have the education backup. even if you did play professionally, that only lasts for a certain numbering of yea. so our focus is to get kids prepared for life and really understanding and the desire to learn and they really get that from the foundation. >> do they need to start as early as four in order to rise to the ranks of
5:56 am
williams or -- >> it seems that they are these days. seems that they are. a lot of programs and they are starting the kids very early. i'll never forget what serena's father said to me when they first started playing, he says willis, i want my whole family to be rich. and so i guess that's why he started them playing tennis and i guess they have come through. but it's a lot of reasons to play this game. >> well, it's so nice to have all of you with us this morning. and thank you for being here. all the best to you. congratulations when you go to school. >> thank you. >> 4.0, that's what we're expecting for you. and for more information about the washington tennis and education foundation and the american about tennis association and all that we've discussed, open the nbc washington app and search wtef. and thank you for being with
5:57 am
i'm pat lawson on muse. "news 4 today" is next. (announcer) there's more to life than the climb. there's the view. you've gotta stop and look around a little.
5:58 am
let the child inside you out to play. remember who you are. life is for the taking, not for taking it easy. asheville. discovery, inside and out.
5:59 am
6:00 am
news for today, starts now. and we start with metro, how the agency is prepping for a big emergency drill that could delay your sunday plans. >> government shutdown fight the battle shaping up on the hill with key deadline days away. ♪ monday, tuesday, happy days ♪ >> and remembering erin moran. gone at 56. more on


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on