My name is Matthew Dudziak and I am 16 years old and an assistant instructor for Philpott Tennis. I first got started with the Philpott program in 2010 at the age of 13 when my mom signed me and my brother up for the free tennis lessons provided by this program at the McGregor Park location. I had been playing tennis since I was 5 and this was a chance to strengthen my skills in the sport that I loved without my parents worrying about financial problems.
Some of my best memories of being a camper at Philpott are from playing the many different games that the instructors came up with. They were all so unique and fun that I was not bored during the lessons at all. Also, “Freezie Fridays” were great as well and they were a very nice and refreshing way to finish off the week.
One instructor that had quite a large positive impact on my life was Chris Steward in the summer of 2011. After the first week of tennis lessons, he asked me if I would like to be a volunteer for the program because he felt that I could teach the younger students the basics without a problem. This surprised me because I did not think I was good at teaching, but as the summer went on, Chris and his assistant instructor Scott were very supportive of me and helped me out whenever I was having trouble. They helped me grow in terms of my tennis skills as well as my teaching abilities. Chris also recommended me as a volunteer for 2012, and thanks to those two years of experience as a volunteer instructor for Philpott, I was able to secure a position as an assistant instructor this year. I have been at the McGregor site from the very start and am instructing there this year as well.
It is so wonderful to see the little kids in the youngest class learn how to play tennis and the joy on their faces when they successfully hit a ball over the net and jump up and down in celebration. They are having so much fun and enjoying themselves so much. It is a look of such fulfillment that, if nothing else, that itself makes this entire job and the many hours spent in the scorching sun very worth it. Having been at McGregor Park for two years as a volunteer and now as an instructor has made it possible to see several little ones go from never having held a tennis racquet to rallying and playing full points against each other in just three years.
Being a part of this program has been very significant for me as it has helped me become more confident in my teaching abilities and made me more outgoing and social, which has really been beneficial when dealing with other people as well. It has also taught me important life skills that will help me for a long time into the future. The Philpott tennis program, its instructors and children alike, is like a family; we work through the problems and help out those in need. We support each other and work towards success together. We do what we love, and through that, we also manage to find ourselves.