Carol Walsh moved to Laguna Niguel with her husband and young family just nine years ago, but the native San Diegan has made a big difference in the lives of many since then. A volunteer for philanthropic causes for as long as she can remember, Walsh fosters animals and has been a board member of several charitable causes.
The avid tennis player and stay-at-home mom of two joined Laguna Niguel Racquet Club soon after relocating to Orange County and wanted to help the community in some way. She describes organizing the charitable organization Tennis Serves Others as a truly spiritual experience. “The whole concept came together very quickly,” said Walsh. With support from fellow club members, and Laguna Niguel Racquet Club owner Mark Spearman, Walsh diligently prepared the organization’s bylaws and board structure. Tennis Serves Others was born in 2016. The organization’s motto? Play Tennis, Serve Others. Love All.
Today, Tennis Serves Others (TSO) has 140 members from 10 tennis chapter clubs across Orange County and their signature fundraiser is an annual Wimbledon Gala and Tennis Tournament. With tremendous support from Laguna Niguel Racquet Club owner Mark Spearman, the events raise funds for charitable causes both locally and worldwide.
Walsh says the Wimbledon-inspired gala and tournament, held each June at the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club, is their premier event. About 80 women dress to the nines, compete for prizes in tennis competitions and bid on various auction items to support the organization’s selected causes.
Carol credits Spearman for the tournament’s success, “I am so grateful to Mark for his generous support. Not only does he open up the club every year for Wimbledon, but he supports us throughout the year by hosting other charitable events. His support was crucial at the onset, and still is!”
In 2021, the Wimbledon fundraisers raised $64K and donated $32K to Fristers (Orange County teenage pregnancy support) and Forever with Us (helps families who have lost children to cancer).
In the five years since the tournament began, $275K has been donated to organizations including International Sanctuary, Good Shepherd Shelter, Caterina’s Club, ACEing for Autism, and Mary’s Kitchen.
Member Kelley McBride has served as Tennis Serves Others CEO since 2020, but Walsh continues to run the Wimbledon events and serves on the board as a founding member.
Any 501(c)(3) organization can apply for funds through the organization’s website, and selected groups are invited to make a presentation. The final recipients are selected by a vote of the entire Tennis Serves Others membership. Walsh points out that there is no set requirement for the type of nonprofits that apply. They will consider all groups and causes.
Organizers are busy planning for the next Wimbledon tournament and gala on June 25 to benefit Operation Help a Hero and Rose Again Foundation.
The general public is invited to the tournament for a nominal admission fee (which of course benefits charitable causes) and the afternoon includes club member matches, a silent auction, music, and other festivities.
TSO Gives Back
In addition to the annual Wimbledon events, Tennis Serves Others coordinates several other ongoing charitable programs.
Tennis Serves Others GiveBack supports youth tennis--providing equipment such as teaching balls, racquets, and tennis carts. Donations are made upon request to local schools, nonprofits, or community youth tennis programs with a financial need.
Quarterly round-robin tournaments are held at different member clubs to raise money and collect items for various nonprofits. These tournaments are open to nonmembers and friends with proceeds supporting Laguna Beach Food Pantry, Families Forward, ARK of San Juan Capistrano, and Extraordinary Lives Foundation to name a few.
Other service projects include a holiday round-robin Jingle & Mingle when participants pack toiletry bags for the homeless while adopting local families in need and providing gifts for each family member.
This tireless group prepares and delivers meals, makes blankets for local hospitals and families in Mexico, provides school supplies to children in need, clothing to homeless organizations, and financially supports foster and orphan care projects around the world.
Tennis SOULS for Others was the first program operated by the organization--collecting gently used shoes for the disadvantaged locally and in Mexico and Africa. The program is still going strong with collection bins in tennis facilities throughout Southern California.
Recognized and honored by the USTA, the nonprofit celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021 and received the Top-Rated Great Nonprofit seal that same year.
McBride says, “When I think about all that TSO accomplishes, I’m just amazed; and grateful!” tennisservesothers.org