The Sunflower

Shocker Women’s Tennis gives back to Fairmount community

Alexandra+Lazarova+shows+a+youth+at+the+clinic+how+to+hold+the+tennis+racket.
Alexandra Lazarova shows a youth at the clinic how to hold the tennis racket.

Alexandra Lazarova shows a youth at the clinic how to hold the tennis racket.

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Alexandra Lazarova shows a youth at the clinic how to hold the tennis racket.

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Wichita State Women’s Tennis Head Coach Collin Foster said he knows the importance of community involvement.

On Saturday, Foster and five of his players teamed up with the Wichita Parks and Recreation Department and McAdams National Junior Tennis and Learning to host an event celebrating the opening of a new tennis court in Fairmount Park, a few blocks south of the Wichita State campus. Children from all over the city participated in drills, played games, and interacted with the student-athletes.

“Obviously we spend a ton of time training and practicing,” Foster said. “But it’s great for team-building to be able to come out and give back to the community.”

Fatima Bizhukova, a sophomore tennis player from Russia, said she had fun playing games with the kids.

Angela Buckner, former Wichita State basketball player and 2010 Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Fame inductee, works with Parks and Recreation and was responsible for coordinating the event.

As a former student-athlete herself, Buckner said she knows firsthand what it means for student-athletes to be involved in the community.

“An event like this engages the student-athlete back to the Wichita community,” Buckner said. “Being able to give back to the community and being able to bring people to the Fairmount area, which is so closely integrated to Wichita State.”

Sergio de Vilchez, a graduate assistant who played tennis for the Shockers from 2014 to 2016, joined in on the action.

De Vilchez said that he developed a love for the city of Wichita during his time as a Shocker and that he looks to give back any chance he gets.

“It’s really important to be involved with the community —It helps to bring the kids closer to tennis.” De Vilchez said. “Americans kinda just play football and baseball and those kind of sports, so it’s good for them to learn about this amazing sport.”

Levonta Williams, who represents the First District in the Wichita City Council, said that through participating in community events, Wichita State student-athletes serve as important role models to area children.

“The connection between the young people here and Wichita State is just remarkable,” Williams said. “To surround kids with caring adults and other students is very important. It’s bringing kids out. It’s introducing kids to some sports that maybe they have not played.”

Foster said this is just one of many community events his team will participate in this year.

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