The Houston Tennis Association’s National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) program boosted its budget substantially with the completion of its second annual GameSetMatch Gala and Tennis Fashion Show at the Westin Oaks Ballroom.
Former touring pro Todd Martin flew in from his tennis academy in Florida to address the more than 350 guests at the festive affair and to share notes on his career and his own dedication for helping youngsters reap the benefits of the game of tennis.
The program, started in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, teaches kids more than how to play tennis, providing educational and life skills classes and scholarship opportunities. The HTA NJTL is a free tennis program administered through the City of Houston Parks & Recreation Department. Each year more than 6,000 students participate at 45 neighborhood parks and more than 40 schools.
Earlier in the day of the event, Martin, who has a career high of No. 4 in the world, conducted a free clinic at the Galleria Athletic & Tennis Club for some of the city’s NJTL participants. That evening the kids participated in an energetic fashion show during the gala, dancing around the guests’ tables to show off the latest tennis fashions designed by Love All, Fila, Tail and adidas.
Fifteen outstanding youngsters were surprised by gifts of a bike and a helmet.
The evening, presented by HTA and Tennis Express, featured a silent auction, cocktails, a seated dinner and a fashion show.
KPRC Local 2 News Rachel McNeill emceed the event. Honorary chairs were DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, and Lara Lehmann was gala chair. A host of volunteers, under the direction of HTA NJTL Chair Bev Taylor, were responsible for the event’s success.