Destin's Newest World Record
● Published by Nancy Babin
Gallery: Worlds Larsget Tennis Lesson - Destin [69 Images] Click any image to expand.
On October 30th, after months of planning, Pat Markey's hard work came to fruition. With the help of his fellow city co-workers in the park and the rec department, a large group of tennis pros, volunteers, teachers and a whole lot of kids from Destin Elementary School - 806 to be exact - the world’s largest tennis lesson was claimed from England by the City of Destin and Destin Elementary School.
As Principal Janet Stein greeted her enthusiastic student body, her staff, the city's mayor, tennis pros and all the volunteers, she could not hold back her excitement as she pumped up her kids! "Today you are going to be famous. You are going to have the largest tennis lesson ever! You are not only going to have the largest tennis lesson in the city of Destin but you'll be in the largest tennis lesson in Okaloosa County! And not only are you the part of the largest tennis lesson in Okaloosa County, you are part of the largest lesson in the whole state of Florida! Not only are you part of the largest tennis lesson in Florida, you are part of the largest tennis lesson in the whole United States! And not only are you part of the largest tennis lesson in the United States, you are part of the largest tennis lesson in all of the North American continent. And not only are you part of the largest tennis lesson in the whole North American continent, you are the largest tennis lesson in all seven continents. From Antarctica to Asia, we are the best because we are having the biggest tennis lesson ever.” The kids and everyone else just jumped for joy with that as it became so monumental to every single person there.
The kids quickly followed their teachers to over 48 stations where they were greeted by friendly volunteers and tennis pros including former world #2 tennis player Andrea Yeager, who coached the children in basic tennis skills in order to make this world record tennis lesson a reality.
Markey, who is a tennis pro himself, wanted to bring tennis back to Destin. "A wonderful lifestyle sport, but it seems to be dying a slow death here." Markey wanted to get kids interested again. He approached Principal Stein and asked if he could give lessons to the kids during PE. Being a tennis enthusiast, she agreed. Markey got to thinking, "If I'm going to teach that many kids, why not teach all of them at once and break a record?" He Googled the information and found that England was the current holder at 770 children. Markey realized beating this record was attainable!
Markey went to work securing local business sponsors such as Merlin’s Pizza, who paid for over 900 shirts, and the grant from the USTA Florida Section Foundation who provided $3,500 worth of equipment for the lesson with the idea that the equipment would be used at the schools for teachers after the fact. He also secured support from USTA Florida, Signchick Signs, Destin Wedding Company, Destin videographer and On the Coast Magazine.
When asked about the event, Markey stated, "All the effort that went into this project was worth it when we saw those kids jumping for joy. And then to top it off, I've had parents contacting me all weekend to sign kids up for tennis lessons. The rebirth of tennis here has begun. Mission Accomplished!"
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