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Free Norwalk Tennis Camp Develops Top Players

NORWALK, Conn. -- Fred Mezidor and Readmayer Thoby batted a tennis ball back and forth Thursday with competitive fervor. Over the years, Thoby has helped Fred become an accomplished player. Nearby, children seated at picnic tables under the trees behind Nathaniel Ely Elementary School decorated shopping bags with fabric paint.

The Norwalk Grassroots Tennis Camp was in its first week. Director David Kimani , a full-time professional at Kings Highway Tennis Club in Darien, said the art lessons are a once-a-week activity┬ľusually the time is used to study reading. The camp is free and takes place through the last week in August. "We don't charge a single dime to any of these kids," he said, "which is good."

Norwalk Grassroots Tennis is a nonprofit Norwalk program that provides tennis instruction to economically disadvantaged children.

Fred is a success story. The 17-year-old began playing at Grassroots Tennis when he was just 5. He just graduated from Green Farms Academy in Westport and is heading to Brown University in the fall. Kimani said he is on a tennis scholarship. Of his $52,000 tuition, he is expected to pay $6,000.

Sanjana Chintalapudi , 15, won first prize last year in the National Junior Tennis and Learning competition, for which she has received a $5,000 college scholarship. She is an instructor at the camp, her mother said.

Kimani expects about 250 children to play tennis at the camp this summer. They can come and go. If they have something else to do for a few weeks, that's fine, they're welcome back. "We try to keep them busy during the summer," he said.

Do you play at the Norwalk Grassroots Tennis summer camp? Leave a comment below.

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