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 Fitzsimmons successfully expands the Wilmington Swing Into Spring Tournament. 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 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 received The Family of the Year from NC Tennis, giving ATANC outstanding visibility this year.

2018 – ATANC selected as the USTA National Adaptive Award recipient.  ATANC hosted 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 was added to the fall schedule.

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


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