Derek Yan, 16, of Potomac, Maryland, a junior at Winston Churchill High School, started an organization designed to provide young tennis players with affordable training opportunities and an online network for finding practice partners. “Coming from a family with limited financial resources, I had been struggling between my passion for tennis and its hefty training expenses,” explained Derek. He decided to try to find a local tennis buddy to practice with for free. “I posted an ad online and guess what …43 players showed up!” he said. Realizing there was a real need to make the sport affordable for kids from all walks of life, Derek founded “Linx Buddies Association.”
Starting with those 43 players, Derek organized a summer training camp on the public tennis courts of a local middle school. As more players expressed interest, Derek recruited eight professional coaches and 15 adult volunteers, and secured the use of additional courts. Since then, Derek’s nonprofit organization has grown into a community of more than 580 young players who participate in year-round training programs at two indoor facilities and eight outdoor locations. In addition, his website enables players all over the country to locate tennis buddies with similar skill levels. Derek also formed a club to enable advanced players to train with some of the top-ranked junior competitors in the Mid-Atlantic region. And in 2018, he partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to launch an annual charity marathon that has raised more than $50,000 to support Alzheimer’s caregivers.