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Orange County teens team up with Second Serve to provide tennis equipment to underprivileged kids

Mika Ikemori, left, and Sarah MacCallum have been teaming up to work with an organization called Second Serve.
Mika Ikemori, left, and Sarah MacCallum have been teaming up to work with an organization called Second Serve, which strives to give underprivileged youngsters a chance to involve themselves in sports, specifically tennis.
(Lynn Ikemori)

Sarah MacCallum and Mika Ikemori are accomplished junior tennis players, known not only for their sportsmanship on the court but also their skill.

MacCallum, a junior at Laguna Beach High, teamed up with Breakers graduate Ella Pachl last year to capture the CIF Southern Section Individuals Doubles title. Ikemori, a sophomore at Marina High, was the Wave League singles runner-up last year and advanced to the Individuals Singles quarterfinals.

One part of MacCallum and Ikemori that shouldn’t be overlooked, though, is their ability to serve.

They have teamed up with the nonprofit club Second Serve to provide tennis rackets, shoes, bags and clothing to underprivileged children around the country and the world.

The girls had Second Serve donation boxes set up at two Orange County clubs, The Tennis Club at Monarch Beach and the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club. People can donate their used equipment in the boxes.

After that, MacCallum and Ikemori collect the equipment and distribute it with the help of San Diego sisters and tennis players Ayanna and Amani Shah. The Shah sisters started Second Serve, which became active on Instagram as @secondserveclub, in 2019.

“When I first heard about it, I was just like, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’” said Ikemori, who has been on board with the club since the beginning. “I think it’s really clever, too, because every tennis player has old stuff that’s just lying around in your garage. It could really go to better use for other kids who want to play tennis. I just thought it was a great idea.”

MacCallum started out donating equipment to the nonprofit, before joining in during the coronavirus pandemic.

“For me, I joined during quarantine, when I was feeling like, ‘I don’t really know what I can do right now to make a difference,’” she said. “This is perfect for me, because I’m making a difference and I’m making connections and becoming stronger friends with my tennis friends. It’s so cool that we all get to do this together, and we’re also helping so many other people at the same time.”

Kids in Tecate, Mexico, are shown after receiving tennis equipment from Second Serve.
Kids in Tecate, Mexico, are shown after receiving tennis equipment from Second Serve.
(Courtesy of Ayanna Shah)

MacCallum said she is looking into other ways to donate equipment, perhaps to the underprivileged kids in Santa Ana. She plans to contact Match Point Tennis Academy, which is run at Cabrillo Park, to develop a plan. She said anyone local who has things to donate can also message her on her Instagram page, @_sarahmaccallum, to arrange a pickup.

It’s a simple idea, but it has spread among the close-knit junior tennis community. Ayanna Shah said that Second Serve now has “presidents” in 11 states and has donated equipment to seven countries, including Uganda, Mexico and India.

The club has drawn the attention of some of the top tennis stars in the United States. Madison Keys selected Amani and Second Serve as a recipient of a Medal of Kindness, and also donated tennis equipment to the cause. The sisters have also partnered with the Sloane Stephens Foundation, making two large donations.

This week, a shipment of more than 60 pairs of tennis shoes was sent to a program called Manav Sadnha, which serves underprivileged kids in the Ahmedabad area of western India.

“Their kids play sports without shoes on their feet,” Ayanna Shah said. “A lot of the programs that we donate to aren’t even able to play on real tennis courts.

“They have dirt courts that they play on, that they kind of made themselves. Just seeing that they have such a great love for tennis with so little means, I think it’s just super-cool that this equipment that we send them can help them so much and make such a big difference.”

MacCallum and Ikemori are hopeful that they’ll get to play high school tennis this spring, if the coronavirus numbers improve. Ikemori would like to build on a very successful freshman year, while MacCallum hopes to play with her freshman sister Jessica, who recently was a girls’ 14s finalist at the USTA Southern California Junior Sectionals.

Whatever happens, though, they plan to keep giving back through Second Serve.

“Recently, we’ve been looking for more money for shipping the equipment to the organizations that are international,” Sarah MacCallum said. “If people don’t have equipment to donate, they can go to the website and donate some money, too.”

Second Serve has donated tennis equipment to several countries worldwide, including Uganda.
(Courtesy of Ayanna Shah)

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