At 84, Kingston still a 'kid' at heart on the tennis court


Vince Kingston was playing tennis at Farquhar Park 15 years ago when a friend said to him: "Vince, you have 12 kids, so you have to be good with kids, and you know tennis, so why don't you become an instructor for Tennis For Kids?"

Kingston took to the suggestion and signed up as an instructor.

The York City resident, who will celebrate his 85th birthday in August, is still part of the Tennis For Kids program which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

On Wednesday morning, Kingston was at the Red Lion High School tennis complex as part of a core of instructors working with a group of 40 youngsters.

Kingston is old enough to be a great grandfather to the players, but there's no generation gap in the instructor-pupil relationship.

"Vince does a lot of one-on-one instruction," Jeanie Rice, the site director at Red Lion the past two years, said. "If a child needs extra help, he'll work with that child.

"He's very sharp, and he really loves tennis and helping kids."

Kingston is in his second year at Red Lion. Before that, he worked eight years at West York and four years at Farquhar Park.

When the West York courts, which aren't far from his home, became unavailable due to construction, Kingston began driving to Red Lion on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for five weeks.

He immensely enjoys being part of the program, but modestly downplays his role in it.

"I couldn't write a book on tennis, I'm basically out here for the fundamentals," Kingston said. "I teach the grip and the strokes, basic things like that.

"I enjoy tennis, I enjoy the camaraderie, and I like being with kids."

Kingston began playing tennis when he was 14. There wasn't a tennis program at his high school (York Catholic), but he did play "a little bit" of tennis during his time in the Air Force.

Kingston was 40 when he resumed playing tennis on a regular basis.

"I went up to Farquhar Park and starting hitting the ball against the backboard. Some people invited me to play and I just started playing up there (Farquhar) after that."

Kingston and his wife, Dolores, still live in the same house where they raised their children. They've been married for 63 years.

He thinks this will probably be his last year in Tennis For Kids due to the physical demands of the job. Kingston's certainly earned the rest.

Kingston and Rice, who retired after teaching for 43 years in the Red Lion School District, are relatively new to Red Lion Tennis For Kids, but Harmony Austin has been part of the program for most of her young life.

The 21-year-old Austin reported for her first Tennis For Kids lesson at the age of 6. She's in her sixth year as an instructor.

"I came back for the kids, and I like the people I work for," said Austin, who played on the Red Lion High School team for three years.

Austin has fond memories of the many mornings she spent on the courts learning how to play the game.

"I remember I had a lot of fun, and we had a lot of cool instructors. I wanted to create that atmosphere."

Working on forehands, backhands, serves and volleys is just part of Austin's job description.

"The biggest challenge is getting to know (the players)," she said. "There are a lot of different personalities on the court."