When she was 8 years old, Veronica saw coaches rallying on her school’s tennis courts. Clinging to the fence to get a closer look, she knew she had to play. That’s when Veronica got involved with Dexterity Sports and Literacy, a program in East Palo Alto, CA. She’s been hitting the courts since.

Veronica, now 13 year old, says she knows there are problems in her neighborhood, and has seen kids hanging out, doing drugs. Playing sports keeps her head focused on her grades and dreams, “It teaches you to follow-through.” Veronica wants to go to college and hopes to play tennis her whole life.

Coaches drive her to weekend tournaments, teach her to make better choices about what to eat and even talk to her about their own college experiences. But she says the best part of playing is the sense of peace she finds on the court, something that’s hard to come by.  “Playing tennis helps you clear your mind of everything,” she says. “It’s like a different world.”

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