Fourth Former Jay Crowther has had quite the year with tennis. In his sophomore year, he earned himself MVP of the eleven-time consecutive Inter-Ac winning team, First Team all Inter-Ac honors, and played at the team’s top spot. As a high school player, Crowther has seemingly reached the pinnacle of tennis success. But he seeks more than victories on the court: he seeks community service. Over the summer, Crowther will lead the newly formed tennis initiative Main Line Tennis Academy (MLTA).
“MLTA is a group of high school tennis players working as a not-for-profit group to raise money for children with special needs—like down syndrome or autism—and share their love of the game with these kids as a way to support the community, as well as provide tennis to those who want to show their support for the special-needs community,” Crowther said.
MLTA is unique because of its specific goal of not only teaching high-quality tennis, but helping others.
“We are not aware of anyone else doing anything like this, a mission-driven program for kids, targeted at those with special needs.”Jay Crowther ’23
“MLTA has a specific mission, and we are creating something unique from scratch,” Crowther said. “We are not aware of anyone else doing anything like this, a mission-driven program for kids, targeted at those with special needs.”
Founded by Crowther and fellow tennis teammate and Fourth Former Joaquin Arias, MLTA sessions run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the summer at Grasslyn Park in Havertown.
“Paid clinics are offered to children and adults of all ages who want to support our mission,” Crowther said.
For a reasonable price, players of all skill sets can seek help. Whether it be the casual club or tournament player, specific drills and plans are mapped out for the player’s success.
“The activities for special needs will be tailored specifically for them—what they can do, their attention span, the amount of structure they need is very different from a traditional tennis clinic,” Crowther said.
With such an in-depth proposal, one is not surprised to find out that Crowther has a familial connection to combating autism.
“I had been thinking about how I could use my love of tennis for the community for a while, especially with kids not able to be as active because of coronavirus and it being a good sport for that.”Jay Crowther ’23
“I had been thinking about how I could use my love of tennis for the community for a while, especially with kids not able to be as active because of coronavirus and it being a good sport for that,” Crowther said. “Then, I was talking to my father about a company he works with, Cognoa, that has some really cool technology to help diagnose and aid earlier intervention with autistic children and it got me interested in the topic.”
Once he started researching the topic, Crowther found that the special needs community is also a part of the Haverford, Inter-AC community.
“I found several other tennis players at Haverford and in the Inter-Ac either had relatives with special needs or had experience working at events like the Special Olympics, so I found support from them. The same with the teachers at Haverford, who have been incredibly supportive so far,” Crowther said.
Encouraged by collective support, the co-founders look to donate all proceeds to a worthy cause.
“Profits will be donated to The Timothy School to help students with special needs receive a better education and support their mission,” Crowther said. “Depending on our level of success, we may be able to expand that to other special needs programs.”
The future looks bright for Crowther to cement his initiative.
“I intend to continue to work on this project through my senior season to support the Timothy School, but it would be great to pass the torch to another student on the Haverford tennis team to keep the program going and have a more lasting impact in the community,” Crowther said.
The Haverford tennis team could also make an impact on MLTA.
“The Haverford tennis team has a really special spirit,” Crowther said. “I think this would be a cool part of that spirit and maybe something that can be a lasting part of the team’s identity even after I graduate from Haverford.”
For now, interested players and customers can find more information on MLTA’s Instagram page (@mlta_tennis) and Facebook page (Mainline Tennis Academy).