group-tennis-shotTwo years ago, Chapel Haven parent and adaptive tennis instructor Jerry Weil had a vision for starting a tennis program that could operate year-round and involve adults with a variety of disabilities in learning the joys of the game.

Luckily, Jerry had a willing partner right down the street at the Yale Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, championed by Christian Appleman, Director of Tennis Center Operations for Yale and Assistant Director of Athletic Facilities.

On Friday, Dec. 16, Chapel Haven and Yale celebrated the clinic with a final round of tennis for the fall semester on the court and then a special presentation at 2 p.m. at the Yale Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, 279 Derby Avenue, West Haven. They were joined by Jenn Myatt, Tennis Service Representative for the USTA Southern Connecticut, and a big supporter of Chapel Haven’s clinic.

Chapel Haven's tennis clinic has many fans, including Christian Appleman of Yale Tennis Center, Melissa Rockefeller, who staffs the clinic weekly for Chapel Haven; coach Jerry Weil; volunteer Jerry Berg; and Jenn Myatt of USTA Southern CT.

Chapel Haven’s tennis clinic has many fans, including Christian Appleman of Yale Tennis Center, Melissa Rockefeller, who staffs the clinic weekly for Chapel Haven; coach Jerry Weil; volunteer Jerry Berg; and Jenn Myatt of USTA Southern CT.

“We are pleased and honored to be hosting the Chapel Haven players, parents and mentors at our facility,” said Christian. “When the players arrive, it lifts our spirits because they always have smiles on their faces and exude an enthusiasm for playing tennis that is truly inspirational.”

The presentation included specially made t-shirts for the Chapel Haven participants.

Jerry offers adaptive tennis instruction every Friday and the pool of participants continues to grow. Chapel Haven’s tennis clinic has grown in popularity so much so that it has been incorporated into Chapel Haven’s education program year round. Chapel Haven won a $500 grant from the USTA for continued support of the program.

Chapel Haven students and community members have enjoyed innovative tennis instruction at some of the area’s top tennis venues, including the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center at Yale and Oak Lane Tennis Center in Woodbridge.

“By making tennis accessible to a wider audience it becomes a magical vehicle to develop social communication, self-confidence and involvement in community,” says Jerry Weil “It’s a wonderful synergy of life and sport.”

Chapel Haven President Michael Storz said he is proud that the tennis clinic has been so well received. “Jerry has done an amazing job of making the sport fun and a great workout at the same time. We are lucky to have Jerry’s expertise and his incredible coaching. And we are grateful to the leadership of the Yale Tennis Center for all they have done to host our clinic.”

About Chapel Haven: Founded in 1972 in a house on Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, Chapel Haven is an award-winning independent living program and approved private special education school with a mission of teaching adults with cognitive disabilities and social disabilities to live independent and productive lives. Chapel Haven serves more than 250 adults (18 years of age and older) with residential and day programs. Read more at www.chapelhaven.org.

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