KILSEY STEPS UP TO COLLECT TENNIS EQUIPMENT FOR SECOND SERVE
LINCOLN – A junior-to-be on the Lincoln High girls’ tennis team, Katherine Kilsey wanted to get involved with her community.
After her mom, Jennifer, saw a story on the news last year, Kilsey realized what she wanted to do. Two California teenagers, Ayanna and Amani Shah, had developed Second Serve, a youth nonprofit program designated to collecting gently-used tennis equipment and redistributing it to underserved communities.
Kilsey said that a lack of tennis equipment shouldn’t hold anyone back from the sport. The program has spread throughout the United States and has even gone national.
“I joined last spring and I’m currently the only Rhode Island representative,” Kilsey said. “Some states have more than one representative, but it’s pretty cool to be the only one from Rhode Island.”
Kilsey said she has been playing tennis for the last five years, but only really started to take it seriously for the last three. She said she realized when she got to high school, she needed to work on her game in order to earn a spot on the Lions’ tennis team.
“I play at Rally Point (Racquet Club in Smithfield) and I started to see improvement,” said Kilsey, who also plays during the summer at Kirkbrae Country Club.
As a member of both tennis clubs, she has partnered with them to provide a box to donate tennis equipment, such as rackets and tennis shirts, shorts, pants, and sneakers. She praised her partners in Russ Steere, who is the owner of Rally Point, and Brien Morissette, who is the director at Kirkbrae.
“We pretty much keep a box out, and then when it’s full, I’ll bring it back to my house to organize,” Kilsey said. “When I have a good amount, I’ll find a donation center.”
Second Serve focuses on youth equipment, but Kilsey said they wouldn’t turn equipment away unless it’s not usable. She said rackets can be for anyone, so there is no age designation there.
Her first donation will be in July to the Slater Park youth tennis program in Pawtucket. She said that Kirkbrae teams play against Slater Park teams, so there is a connection there, and parts of Pawtucket are in the lower income brackets.
“I knew players who could use this program,” she said. “It’s local and I feel really good helping out someone in my own state.”
She will continue collecting items and find a different place to donate next time, and she admitted that the next donation could be international. The non-profit has donated tennis equipment throughout the country, as well as Mexico, Uganda, India, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Haiti, Australia, Zimbabwe, Spain, and China.
Being a part of Second Serve does not mean Kilsey is doing things alone, but she is now part of a bigger, international community.
“I think it’s great to go to the monthly team meetings (on Zoom),” she said. “It’s cool to hear stories of progress, and it gives me a sense of unity on how many people want to help.”
The Shah sisters run the meetings and have created a board of directors.
“They are very organized, and it’s amazing what they have accomplished at such a young age to start a program like this,” Kilsey said.
While Kilsey is the state’s only representative, she thinks it would be cool to get as many reps as possible from Rhode Island, despite it being such a small state.
To donate gently used tennis equipment and clothing, visit Rally Point or Kirkbrae, and for more information on Second Serve, visit www.secondserve.org.
By Kayla Panu