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DALLAS In tennis, 'love' usually means 'nothing.'

But sometimes, it can mean everything.

'It's about changing the lives of kids,' said Bert Cole, director of junior recreation at the Dallas Tennis Association.

For the past twelve years, she has been using tennis nets to catch a lot of at-risk kids in Dallas who would've otherwise fallen through the cracks.

'They were headed for jail, early death, [...] drugs, abuse,' she said.

Now a good number of them are headed for graduation... and beyond.

John Williams is about to leave for college in North Carolina. 'I was given a scholarship there to play tennis,' he said.

Williams said he couldn't have done it without all the lessons he learned in the Dallas Tennis Association's junior program, which focused as much on his grades and community service as it did his game.

'It doesn't just teach you tennis. They teach you moral skills and a great character,' he said. 'They really kept me out of trouble.'

That's what it's all about, Cole said. 'To show them there is hope out there that they can have a future. [...] To show them that we're like their second family maybe sometimes their first family. Some of the kids may not have eaten that day. They have problems, and we see it all the time.'

The work Cole and her colleagues are doing hasn't gone unnoticed.

On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase selected the Dallas Tennis Association's junior program as one of only 10 in the country to receive a special $10,000 grant so they can keep serving the under-served.

  • Click here to find out more about Junior Team Tennis in Dallas
  • Click here to learn more about Slam Jammers, the development program of the Dallas Tennis Association

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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