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Tennis Program Teaches D.C. Children Success On And Off Court

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The Junior Tennis Champions Center works with children in low-income neighborhoods, teaching lessons about tennis and life.
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The Junior Tennis Champions Center works with children in low-income neighborhoods, teaching lessons about tennis and life.

In the past five years, the Junior Tennis Champions Center, a stunning indoor/outdoor facility in College Park, Md., has produced nearly a dozen national champions. But on one recent day at the JTCC, the focus of senior instructor Ellen Miller is on a pair of 8-year-old god-sisters from D.C.

"These two girls, Ebony and Amber, started out at an immediate level and now they are in the advanced program," says Miller. "And as you can see, they can hit a pretty good ball."

Ebony Gorink and Amber Brown were discovered through an initiative called "Game On".

JTCC instructors go into low-income neighborhoods; they provide rackets, tennis shoes and lessons about the game, and as Brown demonstrates, about life as well.

"It doesn't matter about winning, it matters about having fun," says the 8-year-old Brown.

Children like Brown who show promise are fast-tracked into JTCC's world-famous tennis program.

"My mom says since I am good she thinks I might get a mansion," Brown says.

And while Brown sets her sights high, senior instructor Miller says the goal of Game On is a college scholarship.

"If they become professional players," Miller says, "it's icing on the cake."

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