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Portland team play for a greater cause

September 23, 2011 05:14 PM
Coach Moe hits a forehand
By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
Tucson, Ariz. --- Maureen "Coach Moe" Dugan is competing with her Pacific Northwest 4.0 women’s team at this weekends’ USTA Adult League National Championships, but she is also playing on behalf of her other tennis organization from back home in Portland, Ore.
Coach Moe works as the Program and Development Director and coach for Portland After School Tennis & Education Inc., a non-profit organization which offers individualized academic tutoring, tennis and life skills instruction and training to its K-12 participants. No fees or tuition are charged to the participating "student athletes," as PAST&E is dedicated to serving children who are less fortunate.
This Pacific Northwest team, which plays out of the Glendoveer Tennis Center in Portland and is competing in Tucson this weekend at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center has pitched in together as a team to sponsor a student athlete at PAST&E
The team is sponsoring a 5th grader named Makai, and the donations help to cover his instruction in the program in addition to helping pay for equipment and other tennis merchandise and special events. Each team member gets periodic updates about their sponsored student athlete on what he is doing in school and how he is progressing as a tennis player.
"These kids need a little extra in their lives," Coach Moe said. "They need a bit more structure and we are able to give them that extra support. The kids are amazing to work with, and the response to the program has also been amazing. My coworkers and I always have a smile on our faces when we are working with these kids, and the kids and their families are always smiling too."
Many of the kids involved and their families have quickly fallen in love with the sport of tennis after previously focusing on soccer and baseball.
The program has reached out to the community and has received support from some major partners including Nike, which is headquartered out of nearby Beaverton, Ore. Nike has sponsored uniforms and shoes for the kids in the program and even worked with PAST&E on specially designed shoes for the student athletes.
The program is not just limited to being an after school headquarters during the school year, as they also have a summer program, which runs for eight weeks and features a fun and specially designed academic curriculum to help teach subjects in ways that the kids might not get in their regular schools.
Earlier this year, the program took a trip to the University of Oregon’s campus in Eugene to see the Nike "Clash of the Champions" Tennis Festival at the new Matthew Knight Arena, an event the children involved in the program wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford.
The event featured five of the biggest stars in professional tennis, as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams were all in action.
The PAST&E program is continuing to grow and they are trying to maintain one-on-one instruction with the kids involved.
For more information about Portland After School Tennis & Education Inc., visit www.pastkids.org.


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