ATA Capital Campaign

“The Anguilla Tourist Board is pleased to endorse the efforts of the Anguilla Tennis Academy to raise the awareness of the important role this facility plays in shaping the lives of the children of Anguilla. This facility works for Anguilla on two levels: not only does it provide vital personal, social and physical development skills for this vulnerable sector of our society, but the Anguilla Tennis Academyprovides the opportunity for the Anguilla Tourist Board to attract Sports Tourism to the island, through its state-of-the-art tennis courts, and the professional services extended to the resorts and villas of the island. Your support of the Tennis Academy therefore benefits our most precious resource, our children, while giving us at the ATB another great reason to encourage visitors to come to our island. A win-win situation for all!”

“The Anguilla Tennis Academy is a proud example of what can be achieved through vision, tenacity and the combined efforts of the local, regional and international community. The Academy is touching lives and enabling Anguilla’s youth to achieve excellence in the sport of tennis.”

“The Anguilla Tennis Academy (ATA) is a world-class tennis facility that provides tremendous opportunities for Anguillan children. I applaud the great work Mitchelle Lake, Founder of the ATA, and the entire ATA team have achieved over the past 25 years. They are making a positive difference in the lives of children through tennis. I extend a hearty congratulations and wish them continued success in the years ahead.”

“Mitchelle Lake dreamed of a tennis academy that would highlight the beautiful island of Anguilla while providing opportunities for the children of Anguilla. After years of dedication and hard work, the Anguilla Tennis Academy became a reality. For the last 25 years, the ATA has been a shining light for both Anguillans and visitors alike. It has hosted ITF tournaments, camps, and everyday tennis matches. The ATA has also been a beacon of hope and promise for so many children, many whom have left the ATA with scholarships to universities. The ATA has an important role to play in the lives of our children and the children of future generations. Here’s to the next 25!”

Nestled among the various islands that comprise the lesser Antilles, is the British Overseas Territory called Anguilla. The land is eel-shaped, limestone-based, and lightly populated compared to neighboring nations. It represents tranquility wrapped in blue, but also has one of the best kept secrets of the Caribbean. However, the reason is not what one would ever expect from a region of the world known for its robust tourism industry due to the most magnificent white sandy beaches in the world.

Although slightly known and mentioned in bits and pieces, Anguilla contains one of the best stories to never have been told. One man’s dream, twenty-five years ago, precipitated the boldest endeavor ever to be undertaken in Caribbean sport. Amazingly enough, the story is not over.

In 1996, the Anguilla Tennis Academy was formulated in the mind of a freshman in his first year of University. While Mitchelle Vernon Lake sat at a small desk, in a student dormitory at Gardner-Webb University, he was overwhelmed with an immense sense of gratitude for the blessings he received. He collided with a new world, new mentality, and new course of study at the small North Carolina college. The story of how he received a tennis scholarship is arguably even more compelling than the fruition of a world class tennis academy built in an area of the world where tennis is reserved for only the wealthy and privileged. Yet, it planted the seed for a vision that quickly became shared by many.

From one small and dilapidated court that was available to the general public, to a now bustling tennis center with six lighted courts, Mr. Lake made the impossible a reality. Constructed by kindness and donations, the Anguilla Tennis Academy, in a relatively short amount of time, made an elite and unavailable sport into a pipeline for children to receive tennis scholarships to the United States. Since 1996, the ATA has been able to secure more then $1,200,000 for its students to pursue a higher education by using a vehicle that was previously unheard of.

There is far too much to tell in order to properly relay this story, but let it be known that Mr. Lake’s work has been met by monumental obstacles along the way. Even twenty-five years later, his now shared vision is continuing to beat all the odds.

The Anguilla Tennis Academy has made a profound impact on my life and to this day, the experiences continue to be some of the most gratifying moments of my existence. As a witness and employee of the ATA from its beginnings, it has been the catalyst to my current position in the tennis industry. Mr. Lake is not only an inspiration to all, but he is an inspiration to me. No one has ever believed in me, and helped me, to the degree of Mr. Lake. For this reason, he is, and forever shall be, the best friend I have on earth. As he is so caring and giving, it is certain that I am not the only one to make this claim. I am also sure that the many children who have now become adults, will also say, that Mr. Lake has effected their lives to the same degree.

I urge all to hear the compelling story of the Anguilla Tennis Academy and to support its mission to shape lives and build a future through tennis.

Reflection on the 2011 ATA Summer Camp

“During my resent coaching trip to the Anguilla Tennis Academy I was overwhelmed with the commitment of the Anguillan tennis players. The young athletes have recognized the enormous opportunity to better themselves through the disciplines of tennis. By working hard to develop their tennis skills, the children have opened the door to tennis scholarships. And at the end of the process this hard work will lead to a better Anguilla.”

“I have been involved with the ATA as a visiting coach for nearly five years. To come back each year and see the growth on the court and off, of the young people of the program has been truly inspirational. The children continue to be eager to learn and progress. This is a true testament to the work of Mitchell Lake and his coaching staff. Not only have the participants grown over the past five years, but the program as a whole has grown. My first year we traveled from site to site, finding courts wherever we could. To be able to have a central location at the fantastic facility in blowing point is a tremendous asset to the ATA. Everyone who contributed and had a hand in making the facility come to life, should be extremely proud. I have been to academies all throughout the United States and in several other countries. I would spend my time on the island of Anguilla with the young people and staff of the ATA ahead of any other tennis facility in the world! To the people of Anguilla, thank you for your hospitality and for making me feel like more than a guest each summer. I hope to see you all soon!”

“My experience at the Anguilla Tennis Academy summer Camp was unforgettable. As a member of the Shenandoah University tennis team in Winchester, Virginia, I participated in the camp with the advanced level juniors and young adults. I was truly impressed with the coaches, the students, and the facility. All of the participants in the camp displayed high levels of talent, as well as discipline. It was inspiring to see so many smiles on the faces of the children on the tennis court. The camp consisted of a perfect mix of challenging drills and exciting games. Going into my Senior year in College, I can say that the camp helped to improve my Tennis game mentally and physically. The Anguilla Tennis Academy is not just a facility for Tennis lessons, but also for life lessons. The students have the opportunity to learn about communication, teamwork and unity through Tennis. As the Anguilla Tennis Academy continues to grow, so will Anguilla as a whole. I can’t wait to come back to visit the camp and the beautiful country of Anguilla in years to come.”

“This is my 5th summer at the Anguilla Tennis Academy. It is so amazing to see how well the kids have progressed. I am so impress to see what the tennis academy is compared to where it was five (5) years ago. I am so proud to be a part of this organization.”

The ATA Summer Camp A Parent’s Perspective

Riverbanks, jail, and fruit salad. Palaces, dungeons, and frying pans. What, you ask, do these have to do with tennis? Plenty, if you are a child enrolled in the Anguilla Tennis Academy summer camp. Our son Keval, a five-year-old student in the Peewee class, leaves the house every morning with his water bottle and junior racquet in hand, determined not to fall in the river, eager to stay on the bank, and focused on staying out of jail in order to win points and prizes from his coach. The fruit salad? It is not his morning snack; it is one of the many drills and games he enjoys as he learns racquet technique and footwork, develops eye-hand coordination and improves general fitness. As an added bonus, he is also developing discipline, concentration and listening skills – essentials he will carry with him off the court and into the classroom. As far as he’s concerned, however, he’s just happy to tell you he’s hitting more tennis balls over the net each day and having lots of fun doing it.

Our eleven-year-old daughter Sabrina’s experience with the summer tennis camp reads like a history of the ATA. In 2001 at the age of 4, she attended her first summer camp. At that time there was only the camp (no after school programme) and the venue was the one tennis court (sometimes two courts) at The James Ronald Webster Park. As a parent during those early years I remember many children, few courts and long lines of eager tennis novices tended by a very patient and encouraging team of coaches.

Sabrina remembers trying very hard to get the ball over the net and getting frustrated when she didn’t. She remembers improving with her coaches’ help so that by the end of the international coaches’ week (courts provided by Malliouhana and Carimar, later Temenos), she was winning those much coveted prizes and receiving praises for her efforts. Her great disappointment with the tennis camp was that she’d have to wait a whole year until the next one. She waited, sometimes not so patiently, and attended every summer camp since.

In September 2003, the afterschool tennis programme was launched. Sabrina enrolled and has been training and playing tennis, year-round since – on average three times per week. With the opening of the new facility in Blowing Point in December 2007, class size decreased, the student to coach ratio improved, and the children received more individualized attention. With the new facility, tournaments became a more frequent event on the ATA programme, including family fun days for all ages. What a pleasure it’s been to attend all these activities at such a world-class facility.

Over the years Sabrina advanced through the ranks from Peewee to Intermediate to the Tournament Ready group. She has benefitted from tournament play – both local and international competitions. This summer she and several students in the tournament ready group serve as assistant coaches during the morning camp sessions. She looks forward to greater competition and development of her game during the upcoming school year when she joins the older students in the senior tournament ready group.

This parent is happy knowing that the ATA is helping the children to learn and enjoy the sport of tennis – an activity that will serve them well throughout their lives. In addition to developing the skills necessary to play this wonderful game, the benefits to our children through involvement in the various ATA programmes are many – opportunities for personal growth, advancement and leadership to name a few.

This parent must also confess a personal interest in athletic scholarships that are available for promising young tennis players. Several of our local youngsters who came up through the ranks of the ATA are attending colleges and universities thanks to generous athletic scholarships. They can attest to the fact that with a generous amount discipline, self-motivation and hard work, tennis can provide a path to achieve your goals.

Reflections on the 2010 US Open Trip

My 2010 US Open experience as an ATA parent was simply top notch – ACES all the way – from the smooth and roomy JetBlue flights, to the sophisticated accommodations at Midtown’s Dylan Hotel, culminating, of course, with the exceptional tennis witnessed at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. I was thrilled to be there since tennis is my favourite sport, but I am particularly pleased that my daughter Sabrina was able to be exposed to all that the US Open has to offer – the world’s best players (including Juniors), the highest levels of competition, the infectiously motivating environment filled with enthusiastic fans and sponsors. Our US Open experience made us more observant, more analytical, and more appreciative of the opportunities and resources we have right here in Anguilla. Upon our return, Sabrina displayed more initiative on court and towards her tennis activities in general. She is a more motivated individual today, not to mention a huge fan of NY-style pizza. And with that, this ATA parent is quite happy. I am grateful to the ATA and its generous sponsors for our opportunity to attend such an outstanding, world-class tennis event.

Traveling to New York City to experience the 2010 U.S Open was awesome! Every day of my trip was exciting. Having never been there before, everything was new to me. It was great to explore a different place and visit interesting sites such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and The Empire State Building. I shopped till I dropped, ate tons of pizza, and was dazzled by all the beautiful lights and the busy atmosphere. At the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, I was thrilled to see so many famous tennis players that I admire. I was even lucky enough to meet Gael Mofils, shake hands and get his autograph. But just being able to watch them play, analyze their techniques and note it to improve my own tennis game was a huge privilege. Visiting the courts where the Juniors competed was a special opportunity for me to see players my age and examine their level of play as well as ask them about rackets, training strategies and tennis gear. They motivated me to play better tennis. The whole experience was simply amazing, and I would do it again in a heart beat! Thank you ATA!

Anguillian / International Coaches

I’ve been coaching the peewee group for some time and I just love it when I get to the court and the kids all come running to me and call out…”Hiiiii Coachie” (thas wat they call me hehe) and it makes my heart joyful that they really do enjoy tennis and have so much fun learning. That to me is my favorite moment…the smiles and laughter from the kids.
(After school program 2006)

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