On a picture-perfect weather and beautiful blue and green courts, eight children with autism spectrum disorder came for their first tennis lesson at the ACEing Autism Washington, DC program held at William Fitzgerald Tennis Center. ACEing Autism is an adaptive program created for children with autism to grow, develop and benefit from social connections and fitness through affordable tennis programming

Executive Director Richard Spurling was on hand during the first clinic on September 25th, 2021 along with Director of Program Operations, Justin Belisario, to launch the program. “It is the First program in DC!” the Founder happily expressed. 

“It was a beautiful setting for our program to be on the stadium court at the Tennis Center, which is also the home of the Citi Open. We are also very thankful to have a partnership with the Parks and Recreation District.”

Program Directors Lynn Gertzog and Rachel Bloch previously ran an ACEing Autism program at the Wheaton Indoor Tennis Center in Wheaton, Maryland but had to stop those due to COVID-19. Rachel and Lynn saw the positive impact that this program had on children with autism and their families, and they wanted to try to get it going again at an outdoor venue. Rachel is a coach for the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), which runs classes at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. WTEF and its West Campus programs manager, Ronnie Goodall, jumped at the chance to be a proud supporter of ACEing Autism.

Both classes are full, serving 16 kids total, ranging in age from 5 to 16. The classes would not be possible without volunteers assisting the participants as needed. Our volunteers are diverse – some attend local high schools while others are older adults. What they all have in common, however, is a passion for tennis and a desire to help children of differing abilities. 

We are so excited to be back, and even more excited to see how quickly the kids are connecting with their partners, getting exercise, engaging in tennis skills, and playing group games. ACEing Autism, Washington hopes to find a venue to hold indoor classes over the winter and we are looking forward to the spring outdoor session.