Kevin Glines lifted his arms above his head, signaling victory.
He had just sent a tennis ball sailing smoothly over the net with one swift hit.
Glines, 37, of Boardman is trying out the sport for the first time thanks to a new program offered by Mill Creek MetroParks in partnership with the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio. The free, four-week program offers adaptive tennis lessons to people with permanent physical disabilities. It marks the first adaptive program the MetroParks has offered, said programs and events coordinator Cara Hahn.
“The park as a whole wants to offer more to people of all abilities, all ages, all sexes, everything,” she said.
The adaptive tennis program is a first that park officials hope to build on in the future.
“This is hopefully just the start of what the MetroParks is going to bring,” Hahn said.
During the twice-a-week sessions, an Adaptive Sports instructor teaches participants the basics of tennis. At a recent session, players practiced techniques for serving the ball.
Liston Spann of Youngstown said he never would have imagined himself playing tennis, but was “most definitely” having fun learning it.
Glines spoke excitedly about the program, saying, “It’s really cool.”
“It is really fun,” he said. “It’s tough, but it’s fun.”
His mother, Meg Glines, said the program opened up an opportunity that’s not readily available to adults with disabilities in this area.
“For the age group out of high school, there’s not a lot,” she said. “So this opens up a whole new world of learning the sports. And the socialization is wonderful.”
She said her son loves sports, but has limited access to them.
“We’re thrilled to have this available,” she said.
The last session is at 6 p.m. Wednesday with plans to continue the program in the future.