"Rally ON" Program Teaches More than Tennis

You can tell by watching them play, that 10-year old Kela and and 6-year old Camron Semon love to play tennis.

"I love this one, and love the balls. I love to hit the balls with my racket." says Kela

This weekly lesson at Huether Family Match Pointe is something...the brothers look forward to.

"I like them to keep busy. I want them to keep busy and sports are the best for me." says the boys mom Nina Semon.

The Semons are two of the players in this program called "Rally ON.
It's for kids with special needs like autism or downs syndrome. Kela and Camron are autistic. Lisa Marie Johnson, who's a tennis pro at Match Pointe, started the program last June.

"Rally ON specifically where we got the name for, and it took us awhile to think of a name. Was rally, that's hitting the ball back and forth and the O-N, stands for outstanding needs." says Johnson.

And tennis has been a great sport for them.

"Specifically with tennis, especially with singles, t's a one on one sport. So they can get the social component and be with their peers but at the same time be in a space where they are by themselves which is a little more comfortable." says Johnson

Mom says it's helped the boys in other areas like school.

"I feel like there is a little more progress since they started playing. You know, you've got more discipline with what he's suppose to do, when is he suppose to start. She tells him what do and I'm sure in school they do the same thing." says Nina.

"They just have a ball they're doing great. We're working on hand eye coordination, were working on their racket skills and ball skills and they're becoming great tennis players. They love the game." says Johnson

Now the goal is to grow the Rally ON program. Coach Lisa is the perfect person to do that.

"We've reached out to South Dakota Special Olympics, to Sanford Children's Hospital, to Lifescape. We want to reach out to the elementary schools and the high schools to get them all out here...and let's unite together and bring tennis into the childrens lives. Is it rewarding, it's very rewarding. This is so special to my heart and such a passion, I can't imagine doing anything else. It's what I want to do the rest of my life." says Johnson.