Schenectady’s Tirzah Spivey receives USTA college scholarship

Tirzah Spivey gives a lesson at the Michigan Avenue tennis courts in Schenectady on Wednesday.
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Tirzah Spivey gives a lesson at the Michigan Avenue tennis courts in Schenectady on Wednesday.

Schenectady’s Tirzah Spivey received a nice surprise recently in the form of a $10,000 scholarship from the United States Tennis Association Foundation.

Spivey, who will attend Russell Sage College as a freshman in the fall, earned a Donald Lawson Tisdel College Scholarship. It’s awarded to high school seniors who excelled academically, demonstrated community service and participated in an organized tennis program. Spivey is part of the 15-Love chapter in Albany.

“I’ve been involved with 15-Love for a long time. I first picked up a racket when I was 3 or 4 years old,” said Spivey, who said the scholarship process involved writing an essay on how she wanted others to have a positive experience playing tennis.

Spivey advanced to the third round of the Section II Girls’ Tennis Individual Championships last fall.

Spivey’s community service mostly consists of teaching tennis lessons to kids at Michigan Avenue Park and Central Park about 13 hours per week. Before the pandemic, she also volunteered at Schenectady City Mission, and she also volunteers at Clifton Park Community Church.

“It feels great to be honored this way,” Spivey said of the scholarship.

Spivey has given lessons to children of various ages, but the 15-Love program also has her giving the kids some helpful tips in a variety of things.

“We’ve given tips for healthy living and some STEM activities,” Spivey said. “One week we had a tip about staying hydrated, so we found a way to incorporate that into what we were experiencing, so it’s good that it can really resonate with them.

Spivey said she plans to major in biology as part of Russell Sage’s pre-medicine program, and also will play on the women’s tennis team and continue to give lessons through 15-Love.

“They’re always willing to try new games and things,” Spivey said of the kids. “It’s a very positive feedback and strengthens their love to play tennis.”

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