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Gridiron War IX on June 28
By Brian W. Carter (Staff Writer)
Published June 19, 2008

Ten years ago, tennis was not widely regarded as one of the more popular sports within South Los Angeles.

Children not even old enough to speak had already mastered dunking their miniature size basketballs and did not care to learn about tennis.

This notion drastically changed when two little girls from Compton, and their determined father, set the Tennis world on fire.

In the Southern California Tennis Associations’ adult and junior rankings, pros at The Shop have a long history of producing top players. The Shop’s head pro and owner, Rich Williams, is the well known pro who taught Richard Williams, father of future powerhouses Venus & Serena Williams.

Some of the top ten players that The Shop Pros have produced or have given extensive lessons include former top ten junior player Leslie Koffi (who played in the $1.5 million dollar tournament in Lacosta in 2003), former top ten player Otis Smith, Jr. (ranked in the top two hundred on the pro tour after playing for UCLA), Teresa Jennings (former player at USC), Amber Harper (currently playing for USC), and Kenny Brown (who recently graduated from Howard university). In more recent years, The Shop has produced the following talent: Samantha Smith (presently #6 in the girls’ 18 singles), Coy Jones-Hunter (presently ranked No. 2 in the girls’ 14 singles), and Shayla Fulton (who ranked No.3 in the girls’ 10 singles in 2005).

Today, The Shop continues to nurture up and coming players within the community. Future top ten players presently taking lessons at The Shop include Regina Pitts (8 and the older sister of Maya Pitts), Jessica Ivie (8), Ryanna Taylor (9), Darren Dixon (10), Melan Butler (11), Jason Harrison (11), Kevin Person (11), Amira Heath (12), Darian Epherson (12), Joel Burkett (12), Christian Lott (12), and Josha Ivie (13).

The Shop’s record of achievement stands on its own, but the true test of its endurance lies within the lives of each player who successfully studied under their tutelage.


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