An Oklahoma tennis coach receives the highest honor in the state - an induction into the 2018 Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame.
Jessica Reineke had no idea she was even nominated. But the former OU tennis player was humbled by the show of support.
Reineke is used to sharing cheers from the stands, but the tennis standout wasn't expecting the cheers coming from her church’s gym as she entered to pick up her kids.
“I was totally surprised, completely blown away,” she said.
It was during this surprise celebration that Reineke found out that's she's been chosen to be inducted into the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame.
Of her many accomplishments, though, she says starting the tennis academy at Britton Christian Church is among her most gratifying.
“I wanted to give opportunities to kids who maybe would never play a sport after school,” she said.
So, in 2011 she started the BCC Tennis Academy with just a few kids in the gym after church. Now, it serves nearly 50 kids playing after school and even winning state championships and other honors. In fact, Tonkara Henderson, who was introduced to tennis through the academy, was just named the top 10-year-old player in the state.
“It means a lot to me to get to play at my age,” Henderson said. “A lot of kids don't have the opportunity to.”
“These kids are good, they're the real deal,” said Brad Lund, a coach at the BCC Tennis Academy. “To see them blossom and compete with the best of the best, it's really special.”
“I love what I get to do with the kids,” said Reineke. “And not only just playing tennis but to grow as people. Our lessons on the tennis court are just like our lessons in life.”
“She has helped me with my serve and my backhand, forehand and volleys,” said 3rd grader Kellen Hays.
“She helped me be a better person,” 5th grader Javiar Vazquez added.
Many of her former and present students attended the celebration, serving up the many ways they appreciate her and the academy.
“She's taught me how to be a good sport,” said Kadence Williams, a 4th grader who has plays for the academy. “I just really like being there with her.”
“She just helped me become a great leader and great person,” added John Paul Dillon, a 5th grader.
“For her to win this award, it's really big,” said 3rd grader Macy Hays.
“She's just a role model for every junior tennis player that's come before and will come after her,” said Lund.
The kids practice inside the gym at the church but is in the process of building outdoor courts.