Teens net tennis supplies for Africa

HILTON HEAD ISLAND—Cameron Kriscunas and Carsten Fisher turned their passion for tennis into a stewardship project that reached all the way across the globe.

Called Hands Across the Net, the teens created a non-profit foundation with the goal of supplying tennis equipment to children in underprivileged parts of Africa.

They put up fliers at Smith Stearns Tennis Academy where they play, plus other facilities and tournaments, asking for new or used rackets, bags, shoes, clothes, string and grips.

Cameron said she was amazed at how much they collected.

“I thought it would be a lot harder,” she said. “I didn’t think that many people would have equipment they didn’t use.”

In all, they shipped 50 pairs of shoes and 30 rackets, among other things. That first donation was sent to Atteridgeville Tennis School in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Cameron, who is 13 and attends Holy Family Church, said she and Carsten received letters of gratitude
from the children recently. Before, many of them played barefooted and had to share rackets.

With their new equipment in hand, the children recently played in their first tournament and won.

“It feels good that the stuff we’re sending is actually paying off and helping them,” Cameron said.  “That’s why we want to keep doing it.”

She said the idea came about when Carsten traveled to South Africa with his dad and saw the terrible conditions of the tennis courts there, and the meager supplies the children were using.

He came back, told Cameron about it, and they decided it would be a great way to earn stewardship points for their school project, and toward Cameron’s confirmation goal.

The two teens ruled out the United States because there are many tennis schools for underprivileged children that are sponsored by famous players or companies, Cameron explained. They felt they could make more of a difference in Africa.

Carsten’s dad, who travels to South Africa on business, will take a second shipment this summer. Cameron said they are weighing letters of request and leaning toward a school in Cape Town.

Every time she travels to a tournament, she takes her information with her, hoping to spread the word. Most recently, Cameron played in a state tournament in Belton, where she won in doubles and lost a fierce third-set tiebreaker. She now advances to the regional tournament, scheduled for Macon, Ga.