Reporter: Ellie Mahan
May 26, 2022
For their years of dedication to the Whitney tennis team, Jim, Ann and Tom Duncan were presented a plaque at the Whitney High School Athletic Banquet Monday, May 16. To show their appreciation for the Duncans, the Whitney Athletic Department and student athletes also dedicated a sign to them at the tennis courts that reads “Thank you for your commitment and passion for the Whitney Tennis Program Jim, Ann and Tom Duncan.”
Over 16 years ago, Jim and Ann Duncan began helping the tennis coach with high school tennis on a volunteer basis. The Duncans spent many summers holding free tennis camps for children and giving free lessons.
With the help of the Duncans, the tennis team that started out with only two players and two concrete courts with broken nets has grown in both the number of courts and the number of players. Whitney now offers fall tennis, spring tennis and tennis at the junior high.
Christie Welch, Jim’s hairdresser and mother of tennis player Laney Beam, said Jim’s wheels never stopped turning on how to get more students interested in and involved in tennis. In a statement Welch read at the banquet, she said, “He was always inquiring on how to get more kids to play tennis. After a few years and endless sleepless nights for him, his strong determination finally paid off, and the number of kids grew.”
The Duncans then faced another obstacle: there were now so many students interested in tennis that the practice spaces weren’t big enough to accommodate them. After visiting with the superintendent, school board, head coach and many others, the Duncans started a non-profit 501c3 called ACE, which stands for All Children Excelling. ACE helped raise money for new tennis facilities.
“Thanks to the ACE donations, working together with the school, and the bond passing, they finally began to see results. Whitney High School now has eight tennis courts, lights on four courts, shade coverings, bleachers, cabanas and plants outside courts for wind blockers,” Welch said.
In addition to being instrumental in bringing new tennis facilities to Whitney, Jim and Ann Duncan have also spent hours after school helping the tennis coach. The pair later recruited Jim’s brother Tom to help volunteer. As a trio, the three of them not only worked with the players, but they also helped set up and run tournaments, traveled to out-of-town games and hosted tournaments for other schools to raise money for the Whitney athletic program.
Welch said, “The Duncans go above and beyond what any volunteer would do, and we are more than blessed to have them in our community and part of our lives. Jim, Ann and Tom Duncan, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you for all of your dedication, enthusiasm, patience, hard work, countless hours of volunteering, and most of all, the love you have for these kids and our community.”