2007 – Founding members Kirstie Marx, Debbie Ratliff and Sue Wisdom collaborate with North Carolina Tennis Association to create Adaptive Tennis Association of North Carolina (ATANC), a statewide Community Tennis Association providing tennis opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

2012 – ATANC receives 501(c)(3) status. Cofounder Kirstie Marx is appointed first Executive Director. Robert Edwards is the first President of the Board of Directors. ATANC clinics and tournaments for athletes with intellectual disabilities are established throughout North Carolina. The Physical Education, Adaptive Tennis (PEAT) initiative began as a pilot program in Wake County high schools. Raleigh Winter Chill (serving 20 athletes) and Winston Salem Adaptive Open are established as ATANC tournament events.

2013 – Winston Salem Adaptive Open becomes a national tournament. Coach Billie Fitzsimons successfully expands the Swing Into Spring Tournament in Wilmington. Coach Jinni Hoggard takes responsibility for the Greensboro area clinics. ATANC athletes Kristine Hughes and Ruth Hochstrasser play a Unified Doubles Exhibition match at the ATP professional Winston Salem Open tournament to raise awareness for ATANC.

2014 – Adaptive Tennis of North Carolina changes names, becoming Abilities Tennis Association of North Carolina (ATANC), eliminating confusion with other adaptive tennis programs. Coach Kirstie Marx authors the PEAT Curriculum and focuses on training athletes, volunteers, and coaches. Lou Welch steps in as Executive Director. IMG_2906Abilities Tennis sponsors 11 clinics and serves over 250 athletes with intellectual disabilities. Participation at Raleigh’s Winter Chill climbs to 90 athletes.

2015 – ATANC is recognized as “Partner Organization of the Year” by Cary Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources. Cofounder and Coach Kirstie Marx is recognized by the International Tennis Hall of Fame for her leadership in adaptive tennis programs. Abilities Tennis President Robert Edwards retires; Jessie Taliaferro takes over as President of the ATANC Board of Directors. Abilities Tennis programs expand across North Carolina, serving over 320 athletes.

2016 – Abilities Tennis adds the Bull City Tournament in Durham, NC, and the Lucky Duck Tournament in Clemmons, NC. Summer camps receive free training to be able to add tennis as a sport for campers. Over 300 campers play tennis across the state. Clinics continue to grow and expand throughout North Carolina.

2017 – Lou Welch and Christie Elliott receive the first ever Adaptive Tennis Award given by NC Tennis.  Also, the Hunsucker family receives The Family of the Year from NC Tennis, giving ATANC outstanding visibility this year.

2018 – ATANC is selected as the USTA National Adaptive Award recipient. ATANC hosts the first USTA Regional Invitational Qualifier with the winning team going to the USTA National Adaptive Tournament held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida. A new state tournament in partnership with Orange County Special Olympics is added to the fall schedule.

2019 – USTA Net Generation selects ATANC to perform an on-court demonstration on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open and invites an Abilities athlete to perform the coin toss. ATANC becomes the first adaptive program to be showcased before a night match. ATANC is awarded the Community Tennis Association (CTA) of the Year by North Carolina Tennis and USTA Southern Section.  Executive Director Lou Welch is recognized with the Educational Merit Award by NC Tennis.  More than 500 athletes are served with six tournaments and 18 clinics across the state.

2020The world shuts down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ATANC creatively expands programming to reach our athletes. Each week 30-55 athletes tune in to one or more of ATANC’s 33 online weekly workouts and a Zoom clinic called “Partner Up Power Up.” Local tennis stars and coaches help host the weekly workouts, which incorporate a curriculum created by local coaches and our executive director. ATANC creates a YouTube fitness playlist and initiates a national adaptive social media challenge. ATANC’s annual fundraiser Footprints on the Court becomes a virtual event and wins Charity Tennis Event of the Year by USTA North Carolina. Footprints on the Court: A Virtual Fundraising Event is hosted by WRAL TV anchor/reporter Ken Smith and features ATP tennis champion John Isner. Trevlyn Roberts, a Broughton High School student and founder of the first high school Abilities Tennis Club, is named ATANC Volunteer of the Year award. 

2021 – ATANC continues virtual programming with weekly workouts and a special series on Healthy Eating with nutritionist Patty Bergey. In-person clinics and tournaments resume for the second half of the year in 15 of the 24 clinic locations. Footprints on the Court combines with a USTA Level 5 tournament, moves to the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, and is the most successful fundraiser to date. ATANC Coach Billie Fitzsimons of Wilmington wins Adaptive Tennis Award and Executive Director Lou Welch wins Mary Milam Lifetime Achievement Award. Diya Ramchandani is named ATANC Volunteer of the Year. 


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