Second Serve Tennis Program Is All About Love of Tennis and Children

How Katherine Found A Cause On and Off The Courts


Katherine Kilsey, Lion's Roar Staff

In May 2021, I joined a tennis program called Second Serve,  a youth-run nonprofit started by two teens in California that collects gently used tennis equipment to donate to people in underprivileged areas around the world. Their goal is to give everybody access to tennis. 

My mom had seen a clip about it on the news, and thought I might be interested. I had been playing tennis for a few years, but had only started to take it seriously the year prior. At first, I was hesitant to join the program. While collecting tennis equipment for those in need sounded amazing, and I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to play tennis, I just didn’t know if I had enough time or effort to commit to something new. However, what I found out was that there were currently no Second Serve team members in Rhode Island. 

This small piece of information was what made me decide that I wanted to be a part of Second Serve- I wanted local communities in Rhode Island to have this program available to help with tennis equipment if needed. I went to Second Serve’s website and filled out their member application, where I explained a little bit about myself and why I wanted to work with them. Soon after, I got a response that I was in, and the Rhode Island president for Second Serve.

So, I began the search for partnerships. I immediately thought of Rally Point, where I take tennis lessons throughout the year. Countless people go there every day to play tennis- people who might have extra clothes and equipment they don’t need. I decided I needed at least one other location where I could set up a collection box, so my mom suggested Kirkbrae, where I play tennis over the summer. With these two places in mind, I now needed to somehow reach out to see if they would be willing to help me with my project. Drafting up emails to send to these organizations was a struggle in itself, as I was afraid I would forget important details or come across as too needy. I sent both places an email explaining what Second Serve was and how they could help me out, and within a few days I received my responses- both agreed!

My mom and I would check up on the boxes when we visited Rally Point and Kirkbrae, and bring them home to sort through the items when the boxes filled up. This process was repeated several times over the next few months. I took a few breaks from collecting items when I was extremely occupied with school and other activities and knew I wouldn’t be able to put my full effort into Second Serve, but never for long. 

About a year after I first joined the organization, I began to inquire about possible donation sites. I had collected a total of over 80 items, including tennis rackets, sneakers, bags, and a variety of clothes. I wanted my first donation to be local, and to help a program in Rhode Island. 

After doing some research, I decided on the Slater Park tennis program in Pawtucket. Pawtucket is one of the most underprivileged areas in Rhode Island, and many children in their tennis program could benefit from new equipment. The heads of the Slater Park tennis program were thrilled to hear about my idea and were very gracious for the donation. In between the time of making this partnership and the actual donation, I was published in the Valley Breeze detailing my journey with Second Serve. 

On July 29, I made my donation and was able to meet the program organizers from Slater Park face to face. They thanked me for my help with their program and explained how useful the equipment would be. I felt so proud to have contributed to this, and felt that all my hard work had really paid off.

Even after making my donation, I am continuing to work with Second Serve. I attend monthly team meetings over video call where we talk about the organization’s plans for the month and share our recent accomplishments. I am a part of their marketing team, focused on getting the word out about Second Serve through print and social media. I’m inspired by everyone on the team to keep collecting equipment and would love to make another donation within the next year. For more information on Second Serve, please visit or @secondserveclub on Instagram.