“One of the students, who is non-verbal, he was very happy to be at tennis, but he didn’t really have any words. So his mom said one day, ‘I just wanted to let you know that Marvin brings his tennis racquet at night to his bed.’ I kind of was stunned because I knew he enjoyed tennis, but I didn’t realize how much he loved it, and that was his way of expressing himself.”
Joining co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi on the TENNIS.com Podcast this week is Love Serving Autism CEO and founder Lisa Pugliese.
Pugliese competed as a junior, collegiate player (at Duke and the University of Florida) and pro on the ITF tour. Once her playing career was over, she discovered a passion for speech and language therapy, specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. After working at a middle school and then as the program director for Acing Autism, Pugliese branched off to start her own non-profit, Love Serving Autism, in Florida in 2017.
One in 59 children have autism, and Love Serving Autism’s mission is to create an adaptive pathway for the red, orange and green ball levels, expanding life skills (particularly communication) through specialized therapeutic tennis instruction.
Backed by the USTA and generous donations, Love Serving Autism is sending 24 players to the US Open for the Net Generation Kids on Court Demonstration on August 31. The children will get a chance to play on one of the stadium courts, where Pugliese once competed at as a junior.