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Love All Tennis – Coming to Davidson

by | Apr 29, 2021

Linden Patterson presenting tennis racquets and balls to Jim Hamm, Executive Director of “Special Pops” Tennis Organization. Special Populations Tennis Program, Inc. (Special Pops) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that offers an adaptive tennis program specifically designed to share the lifetime sport of tennis with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. [screenshot from CBS News}

Several weeks ago, the CBS Weekend News ran a good-news story featuring a high school senior in Georgia who had created an organization in the midst of COVID.

But wait, what does this have to do with Davidson?

Well, the high school student, Linden Patterson, was wearing a Davidson cap during part of her CBS interview. While there are a lot of possibilities, I figured Linden might be a prospective Davidson student.

Chris Gruber, Davidson’s vice president of admission and financial aid, gave me the answer: Yes, the senior at The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia, has been accepted to the Davidson Class of 2025 and would be a scholar-athlete on the Women’s Tennis Team.

Zoom interview with Linden Patterson (top left) and Jack Hall (bottom center).

Chris reminded me that the Head of School at Walker is a Davidson alumnus. So, I invited both Linden and Jack for a chat—on Zoom—about “Love All Tennis.”

They couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about Davidson. One spoke as an alumnus harkening back to great experiences of days gone by, and the other as a future student, who will call Davidson home in about four months. During the conversation I also learned that Walker’s admissions director is a Davidson alumna—quite the Davidson connections.

The CBS news story focused on “Love All Tennis,” Linden’s brainstorm during COVID. She had dozens of old racquets in her garage and figured she was not alone. New technology and outgrowing racquets are but a couple reasons why they start gathering dust. She realized that she could start collecting these cast-off racquets and get them to people who could use them. She said, “Why are they sitting here when they could be put to good use?”

Linden had the time to create and grow her new organization largely because she had not been able to participate in as many tournaments as a result of COVID.

“While these kids can’t go out and play basketball with a team, they can’t play football during COVID, but tennis is such a great opportunity to be outside, to be social without being on top of one another.”

However, she knew that the cost of a racquet can be the hurdle that keeps people from playing the sport. She reached out to fellow members of the tennis community who confirmed they too had old or unused racquets that could be put to better use.

We’re really glad Linden Patterson wore a Davidson hat during her interview with CBS News.

Linden also contacted the United States Tennis Association and several state organizations to see if they could play a role in collection or distribution. While they liked her idea, they didn’t immediately say yes. They essentially said come back to us after you have collected more than a few racquets. She did just that. To date, she has collected more than 2,000 racquets to distribute to organizations and players.

Linden leveraged social media in the process—using Instagram and Twitter to get the word out about her efforts. And word spread quickly across the region. She would show up at tournaments and have people waiting to donate their gently worn tennis equipment to her effort.

Then came the fun part of our interview. I got to ask Jack Hall to talk about Linden, and specifically what he thought about the fact that she had chosen to attend his alma mater.

He beamed!

“I think she has a cape. When I was writing her recommendations, I looked up the word ‘charisma.’ It’s very interesting—it talks about someone who has exceptional powers or quality. And I really believe she has exceptional powers—she wouldn’t use that word—but she has an exceptional level of energy and enthusiasm and genuineness that’s going to help her be the difference-maker on the Davidson campus that she has been at Walker.”

We look forward to welcoming Linden and all of the other “difference-makers” who will arrive this fall as members of the Davidson Class of 2025. Our community is a better place because of the impact Davidson students have beyond the campus.



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