Summer days at Vineyard Family Tennis are filled with the sounds of kids learning the game: instructors calling out encouragement, the laughter of the young players and the thwack of tennis balls being hit with purpose. This may seem unremarkable because it has been so for the past 21 years. But the Island is fortunate to have this institution preserved and poised to continue for years to come.

Funded for two decades through the generosity of West Tisbury resident Gerry De Blois, the tennis center had to regroup a year ago and create a more sustainable financial model. The town of Oak Bluffs and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission did their part, granting permits which allow the center to charge adults, while keeping tennis affordable and accessible for kids. Private donors provided a year’s worth of operating funding and MV Youth generously granted $250,000 to replace the bubble structure which had been destroyed by a northeaster. Island tennis pro Mike Johns has guided the operation to its present state; more than 150 adults and 400 kids are now enjoying the facility and its finances are stable.

The legacy of establishing the tennis center continues, with tangible results. Last week, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys and girls tennis teams distinguished themselves in statewide competition. The boys team reached the final four in division three by winning the south sectional championship. The girls team earned a remarkable fifth consecutive state championship title. Between them, the teams graduated only three seniors and each team will receive an infusion of several talented freshmen — all of whom have trained at Vineyard Family Tennis for years. These are teams which will continue to achieve at a high level and make our community proud.

This success comes only with dedication and maturity. Sportsmanship, commitment and mental preparation are central to our advanced training and are foundations for success in other aspects of life. Our high schoolers have grown to become outstanding people as well as accomplished tennis players.

At the tennis center, many of the instructors teaching the young kids to be future champions are members of past or current Martha’s Vineyard high school teams. Some have graduated college and returned to teach, some are now playing for their college teams and some are about to enter college and will compete at the highest levels. All of these young adults learned the game at the tennis center and they are paying the legacy of Gerry De Blois forward.

Chris Scott is the coach of the high school girls tennis team and chairman of Vineyard Family Tennis.