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Tennis tourney this weekend helping fund mentoring for kids
Lance Turner, left, and Vanessa Weeks are working on establishing a mentor program at the Manteca Tennis Center. An amateur tournament this weekend will raise funds toward that effort.

You can take a swing at winning a tennis tournament this weekend and help put in place a program designed to mentor students at the same time.

Future Stars 2000 is staging a tennis fundraiser Saturday and Sunday at the Manteca Tennis Center on North Union Road. The deadline to enter is Wednesday at 5 p.m. The entry fee is $18 per person for the first event and $10 per person for the second and third event. There are singles events for men, women, girls, and boys with various age group brackets; doubles for women, men, and mixed teams; and family doubles events that include father/son, father/daughter, mother/daughter, and mother/son.

You can get entry information by calling either Gary Heil at 601-2209, Jim Lawhorn at 956-9350, or Lance Turner at 483-8430.

The non-profit organization is attempting to raise $50,000 to establish a mentoring program at the tennis center for young people aimed at helping with homework, getting them hooked on tennis as a healthy diversion, and providing role models.

It is being modeled after the highly successful First Score program of a few years back. That program is credited with helping a large number of kids establish goals and work toward them while doing homework, and working on their tennis play. A good number of those students went on to play high school tennis.

The goal of the mentoring program, though, isn’t to produce Class A tennis players Although that can happen. It is to encourage kids to do better at school and to have them develop a love for tennis that can help provide balance in their lives.

It is something that Futures Stars 2000 volunteer Vanessa Weeks understands.

Weeks, who took up tennis to play for Silver Creek High in San Jose, got away from tennis after high school as she started working full-time and attending San Jose State.

She said the task of juggling the two – full-time school and working full-time – began to take its toll. It wasn’t until she opted to work part-time and picked up the racquet again that she started getting balance in her life.

It is something that Future Stars 2000 founder Lance Turner understands well.

That is why Turner wants to help young people get a chance to be exposed to tennis in a bid to bring focus to their lives. As Turner found out with First Score, getting hooked on a healthy activity such as tennis that involves both mental and physical skills overflows into other areas of a child’s life.

This time around, the tennis center plans to add at least two computers for student use during the after-school mentoring program.

The United States Tennis Association Northern California operations are committing a $5,000 grant to help jumpstart the Manteca program.

The mentoring is part of a renewed focus on activities at the Manteca Tennis Center where there are currently five USTA tournaments. Future Stars hopes to add at least five amateur tournaments to its repertoire each year at the tennis center.

There are plans to also slowly move from an all-volunteer structure to allow the tennis center to be open all day to accommodate lessons for all ages or drop-ins who may need to purchase tennis items, use a ball machine to practice their services or to simply hang around other people who have the love of the game.

Weeks is working in fundraising to help accomplish all of those goals.

The tennis center is not only centrally located to the Northern San Joaquin Valley but it is drawing people from other communities including Stockton due to the no charge for lights and care given to the courts.

“Manteca is becoming quite a town for sports,” Turner said, noting the tennis center fits in well with not just the Manteca golf course, but the Big League Dreams complex, soccer play at Woodward Park and the indoor facility at BLD, the new BLX track, and even Bass Pro Sports.

For more information on Future Stars 2000 contact Turner at 483-8430.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email