By Alicia Dziak

Seventh grader Lily Vanuga, an avid tennis player, has found a way to combine the sport she loves with her Kids Can Make a Difference project. She will be holding a special Tennis Play Day event this Sunday to benefit the USTA Foundation.

“I chose a tennis play day because I have noticed that there is limited interest in tennis in the Springville area,” Lily noted. “Not only does tennis keep me active, it is a sport that involves a lot of mental skills and strategy.  Creating an event focused around the sport, I hope to encourage other kids, as well as parents, that tennis is a life- long activity that can be fun as well as competitive.”   

The Tennis Play Day will give kids the opportunity to develop their tennis skills as they play short matches with players similar in age and skill level.

Lily has spent many hours preparing for the event.

“I have worked with my ELA teacher, Mrs. Canfield, and my social studies teacher, Mr. Karb, on the project since the beginning of the school year,” she explained. “This involved writing business letters, community involvement awareness and various steps of organization.  USTA Tennis Professional, Wayne Martin, from South Towns Tennis Center in Orchard Park will be assisting with the event.  Julie’s Restaurant has donated pizza for afterwards.”

Lily said that her main goal for this event is to “promote the game of tennis and try to get more kids involved in the sport.  At the same time, I am hoping to raise as much money as I can for the USTA Foundation.”

She had several reasons for choosing USTA. “I worked with the USTA Foundation primarily because I love the sport of tennis and I couldn’t imagine my life without playing,” Lily said. “USTA Foundation helps bring tennis and education together to change lives.  This includes free or low-cost tennis and programming to under resourced youth, helping military service members, veterans and their families reintegrate into their community as well as helping individuals with disabilities with appropriate equipment.  I really wanted to support an organization that promotes the love of the game to all people, especially kids.”

“Lily has been playing tennis since she was 5 years old.  She is passionate about the sport and continues to learn.  Supporting the USTA Foundation allows her to use her love for tennis to help other disadvantaged youth and military get involved with the sport,” said Lily’s Mom, Anne Vanuga. “She has seen how much hard work and planning is involved in putting together a fundraising event.  Lily has also witnessed the need for dedicated volunteers and community support to help make an event run smoothly and be successful.”

Tennis Play Day, geared toward kids ages 6-14, will be held this Sunday, April 30 (rain date is Sunday, May 7) from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the SGI High School tennis courts. USTA Teaching Professional Wayne Martin, as well as SGI Varsity tennis coach Frank Noeson, will be working with the kids. Pizza, donated by Julie’s, and refreshments will be served at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $10 with proceeds going to USTA.

You can RSVP by email ( as late as Saturday night or just plan on arriving 20 minutes early Sunday morning at 10:10 a.m.  “I look forward to seeing kids with their sneakers and racquets ready to have fun!” Lily said. She added that there will be a limited  number of racquets for kids who do not have one.