March 26, 2008

Video: Rachel Snelen, ICTA Pro Tennis Team Captain, Takes Leap of Faith…

Posted in International Christian Tennis Association, rachel snelen tagged , at 9:05 pm by Scott Paschal

mel-camera-may-11-027.jpgFor those of you who have always wanted to take a leap of faith, but never have… ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team captain, Rachel Snelen, invites you to come along with her on a unique, special video journey.

(Rachel Snelen backhand in Florida)

Rachel, a Christian missionary, picked up the sport of tennis around 12 years of age with her twin sister, Melody.

In 1999, at 16 years of age Rachel began training full time with me in Arlington, Texas. She and Melody showed uncommon passion for hard work and both quickly improved.

nigeria-trip1-133.jpg

(Rachel Snelen in Nigeria, Africa w/ locals during ICTA Pro Team Outreach)

By 18 years Rachel had become a top 10 junior player in Texas and a top 250 G18 nationally ranked junior in the United States Tennis Association. She also earned her ITF junior world ranking.

Rachel had a dream to earn a WTA tour ranking. She accomplished this dream in 2006 and earned her highest WTA ranking of 1120 in 2007.

More than tennis, ministry is Rachel’s passion. She knew fully at 16 years of age that tennis fame was not feasible for her life.dscf4815.jpg

(Rachel Snelen poses w/ handmade Nigeria dress she designed)

Yet what she did fully know is that God could use her in big ways worldwide to reach female players on the ITF and WTA tour, if she increased her tennis level high enough to be able to qualify into the pro tournaments.

From Africa to Europe to South America to the Middle East, and all over North America, God has taken Rachel to amazing places and has used her young life to share His story.

No one, not even me!, could have ever imagined how amazing the journey of Faith could have become for her and her twin!

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(Rachel Snelen leading ICTA Pro Team Outreach in Canada)

The tennis friends and ministry friends Rachel has developed, the top players she has played and traveled with…

…the cultures she has experienced worldwide, the deepening of her personal relationship with God…

…it’s amazing to see God’s plan unfolding and growing and guiding and reaching and deepening.

What I love most about Rachel is her huge heart. If you’ve never had the chance to know Rachel, you’ve missed out. Her heart is the size of Texas, the state where she was born.

rachel-3-weeks-mexico-098.jpg(Rach reading a Christian tract to kids in Mexico)

She is genuine and real and what-you-see-is-what-you-get in her authenticity. She works hard, she loves Jesus, she adores her cat (Easter), she’s devoted to her family and friends.

I sometimes think back to when I watched her strength and character on prime display when her father, Tommy, was dying from cancer… 18 year old Rachel didn’t stay in the hospital and cry…

dscf2761.jpg….she left on a Christian mission trip to Canada, something I think Tommy was very proud of then, and now.

(Rachel Snelen in Israel waving from a camel on ICTA Pro Team Outreach)

This video is a small capsule of the Rachel I’ve been privileged to know. It’s not video of her life, but it does tell a story…

And for those of you who have been asking me to post more videos… here you go!

I’ll also begin posting video blogs and ICTA Church @ the Beach services.

God bless, Coach Scotty

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March 20, 2008

Pain on the Journey to WTA Tennis Fame?

Posted in Africa Tennis, Athletes in Action Tennis, ATP Tennis, Benin City Tennis, Billy Graham, Christian Discipleship, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Player, Demon Possessed, Faith, Hope, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Junior Tennis, Leadership, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, scott paschal, Sex Slave Trade, Sexual Abuse Tennis, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary, USPTA, USTA, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , at 11:12 pm by Scott Paschal

What do you personally do when you see someone being harmed illegally?

Let’s say you see someone totally defenseless being hurt… maybe a baby in a locked car with the windows up on a hot summer day..dscf3959.jpg. and the car’s engine is off. What would you do? Be honest.

(Anastasia Kharchenko (WTA) and “Lucy.” Harmed by tennis coaches. Both now have voice!)

Would you walk by and pretend you saw nothing? Would you call the police or emergency rescue for help? Would you bash in a window and allow the heat to escape? Be honest.

Most decent people would want to help.

But, what about those people who refuse to help. Sicker still, what about those people who receive some sort of enjoyment from seeing others hurt. And, what if the people who refuse to help or the people who gain enjoyment from the pain of others are in positions of power?

Unfortunately, this type of sickness is happening all over the global tennis industry. I know because over the last nearly decade I’ve compiled a list of graphic abuses forced on under age children in tennis by Satanists, homosexual and heterosexual pedophiles, famous tennis coaches, atheists, tennis academy owners, pro tennis players….

In tennis, there are people who are in difficult situations worldwide. You’ve often heard me speak up about under age kids being harmed.

You’ve heard my opinions and you’ve seen me back up my words with action. Change is happening in tennis… as you can plainly see from my last blog entry about how the WTA is now finally demanding criminal background checks on all WTA player coaches…

… which won’t even come close to fixing everything and isn’t nearly everything I wanted, but it is a start and does send a global message throughout women’s sports….

You’ve seen me screaming from the rooftops and soapboxes in places worldwide. Honestly, though, who gives a rip what I say. I’m obviously a nobody. I’m just one voice in millions of tennis voices. In no way am I THE authority on anything… nor is my opinion greater than yours.

The real question is, what does the Bible say?

What does the Bible teach us about those who are helpless. Has God given us any clues as to how He wants us to protect and preserve the rights of the abused.

Let’s take a look…

” The people who lived there were powerless; they were frightened and shunned. They were like grass in a field or weeds growing on a roof when the hot east wind blasts them.” Isaiah 37:27 (TEV)

nigeria-trip1-031.jpgHow do we recognize the face of a powerless person?

Again, let’s look to the Bible… and notice the guy from Cyrene…

“The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26 (TEV)

(Melody Snelen being cheered up by local Nigerian youth in Benin City after losing 2 hr match to eventual Finalist, Nowack. All here are faces of the abused. Melody now has voice!)

Back in Jesus’ day, people from Cyrene most likely had black skin, thus were basically considered less than equals to the locals. Notice the guards took Simon because they could see he was not local (of their status)!

1. The powerless are many times considered second class citizens

“… a man from Cyrene who was coming into the city from the country.”

2. The powerless many times have no one to protect them.

“… and they seized him…”

3. The powerless feel they are trapped and have no way of escape.

“…put the cross on him and made him carry it…”

Who are the powerless around us?

“Jesus said, ‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to see me.’ ” Mathew 25: 35-36 (MSG)

1. Many children around the world… born and the unborn.

“But if you give these children a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of a lake with a millstone around your neck.” Mathew 18:6 (MSG)

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)

2. Those discriminated against… by minority, race, social status.

“Don’t look down on me because of my skin color…” Song of Solomon 1:6 (TEV)

“You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10 (NIV)

3. Those that are trapped due to illness, low income, or abandonment.nigeria-trip1-406.jpg

“Destruction is certain for those who issue unfair laws. They deprive the poor, the widows, and the orphans of justice. Yes, the rob widows and fatherless children!” Isaiah 10:1-2 (NLT)

(Rach and Mel w/ local physically handicapped Nigerians trying to stay alive in 3rd world conditions)

” ‘At that time I will put you on trial. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the aliens living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:5 (NLT)

Bringing hope to the powerless.

“God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NLT)

1. Reaching out to the powerless with compassion.

“You insult your maker when you exploit the powerless; when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.” Proverbs 14:31 (MSG)

nigeria-trip1-011.jpg“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NLT)

(Ana w/ Nigerian youth after winning qualifier match for the first of two ITF Pro tournaments she won in Benin City)

2. Speak out for the powerless with conviction.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)

3. Standing up for the powerless with courage.

“Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and to prosecute all those who exploit them.” Psalms 82:4 (MSG)

Truth to stand on…

There is only one person who can truly set people free.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for you and me.” Romans 5:6 (NIV)

The challenge: Will we be willing to respond to those God places before us?

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

March 12, 2008

Huge ICTA Success Story: WTA Now Requires Criminal Background Checks on All Coaches of WTA Players!

Posted in Julia Vakulenko, Junior Tennis, Leadership, Rich Fanning, scott paschal, Sexual Abuse Tennis, Teamwork, Tim Heckler, USPTA, WTA CEO Larry Scott, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:32 pm by Scott Paschal

pacificlife2007day30212.jpgA big, heartfelt thank you, and congratulations, goes out to the International Christian Tennis Association members and supporters worldwide who have rock solidly helped me to champion women’s rights in tennis.

As many of you know, I have personally made a stand to protect the rights of sexually abused female athletes.

Worldwide, and I mean everywhere, sexual predators posing as tennis coaches stalk junior tennis players, particularly female players.

And in the hundred+ years of tennis history, every major tennis governing body had seemingly turned their heads away from dealing with the rampant sexual abuse and sexual slavery dominating tennis training and tennis academies, and destroying the lives of our youth!

As the International Christian Tennis Association membership grew from 5 members in Arlington, Texas in 1999 to thousands and thousands of members living in over 1800 cities in 60 countries in 2008, the ICTA voice began to be heard and accounted for!

Your voices have been heard as pressure has mounted on tennis’ governing bodies to finally do something to protect underage, female tennis players from predator, pedophile tennis coaches.

Last night, I gratefully received long awaited information that the WTA is now demanding mandatory criminal background checks on all coaches of WTA players! And not just the coaches, but everyone in the player’s entourage as well!

WAHOO!!

Congratulations to Larry Scott, WTA CEO, for making this pro-active, worldwide sport-altering decision to finally offer some protection to underage WTA players.

Larry Scott says to Reuters at the Dubai Championships, “As the leading global sport for women and a sport where we have a lot of girls under age, I feel we’ve got a serious obligation to be at the forefront of any measures we can to protect the players.”

scotty-bill-goofy.jpgBut, much more than a congratulations to Larry goes a congratulations to YOU, the International Christian Tennis Association member! You listened to my pleas and understood the need for change!

You sent ICTA newsletters to your friends, family, co-workers, church members, pastors….! At junior tournaments globally, you began discussing my hard-line, no compromise stance when it comes to protecting underage junior and female tennis players.

Now, the WTA has felt the pressure and change has occurred!

Let me add something to Larry’s stance…

The Bible says, “But if you give these children a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.” Mathew 18:6 MSG

Why the WTA Tour took this long to make such an obvious decision, I don’t know. People who turn their heads to crime are guilty of crime.

Honestly, Larry, has the WTA Tour never, ever been approached by even one under-age WTA player who has been abused by a coach? And, if so, is not the WTA Tour responsible for subsequent acts of sexual and physical abuse towards WTA players… particularly if the WTA attempted to keep the issue swept under the rug?

While I applaud the WTA for making a long awaited move, I can’t help but wonder why other organizations, such as the USPTA, PTR, and USTA haven’t chosen to protect women and under aged player’s rights?

The United States Professional Tennis Association, USPTA, claims to be the oldest pro tennis certification organization on the planet. If so, then why in the world have they seemingly chosen to support the rights of criminal child pedophiles, while suffocating the rights of young girls?

Rich Fanning, USPTA Director, and Tim Heckler, USPTA CEO, both seem to be caring and professional people who truly want to promote and grow the sport of tennis.

The question, though, has to be asked as to why the USPTA with these two men at the helm is doing what seems like absolutely NOTHING to protect tennis players, particularly youth, from homosexual and heterosexual pedophiles!

What is the USPTA afraid of!? Losing money when the pedophiles/criminals hiding within the USPTA’s “professional membership” stop paying dues because they don’t want to be exposed?

IF WTA can do criminal background checks to protect our kids from pedophiles, then what is USPTA’s excuse? They have none! If a pro or potential pro isn’t willing to have a criminal background check done, then he or she doesn’t deserve a respected USPTA pro certification.

A USPTA background check would send a strong signal to current and potential tennis teaching professionals.

Same goes for Professional Tennis Registry, PTR. I wonder which of these organizations will prove their authenticity to the world first!

To wrap this up, thank you to everyone who supported the hard line stance I took in holding tennis’ governing bodies accountable for their actions.

My hard line stance was a direct result of the influence Gene Scott has had in my life, plus recommendations from friends that I NOT take a hard line stance as my friends were concerned I might end up getting bashed in the process of making a difference .

In addition, personally witnessing female players’ lives being destroyed by tennis and my being attacked by the abusers of those players massively motivated me to make 2008 THE year of change in tennis.pacific-life-2007-day-3-035.jpg

Yet, more importantly, God plainly telling me exactly what I was to do with my life chained me to the responsibility and drive needed to force tennis to wake up to issues.

God bless and buckle in… this rodeo is just gettin’ started!

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

March 8, 2008

ICTA Christian Junior Tennis Player, Anastasia Kharchenko, Wins First ITF Pro Circuit Title!

Posted in Africa Tennis, anastasia kharchenko, Benin City Tennis, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, Christian Tennis Ukraine, Demon Possessed, Faith, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Julia Vakulenko, Junior Tennis, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Ministry, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , at 10:24 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf3903.jpgCongratulations to junior tennis player Anastasia Kharchenko who won her first ITF Pro Circuit Title while on an ICTA Outreach in Benin City, Nigeria!

Ana, a member of International Christian Tennis Association Women’s Pro Tennis Team, which is a special group of high performance tennis players dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, won the tournament without losing a set!

(Anastasia Kharchenko, 2nd from left, with team in Atlanta airport before flying to Lagos, Nigeria)

The team travels worldwide competing in ITF Pro Circuit tournaments. Each tournament they attend is a Christian outreach harvest field for them.

The road from when I first met Ana to our journeying to Nigeria with her team is a special one that leaves us all standing in awe of the miraculous provision of God.

About 1.5 years ago, an ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team journeyed to an international tournament in Mexico. There they met Anastasia Kharchenko, who they discovered had been forced to endure abuse from her tennis coaches.

nigeria-trip1-471.jpgI will never forget Rachel Snelen, team captain, calling and asking me if I would be willing to coach Ana.

(Ana and I flying to Lagos Nigeria)

When Rachel informed me Ana was from Ukraine, I nearly hung up the phone, as just a few months earlier I had been burned by Julia Vakulenko and had basically lost trust in Ukrainian players.

You remember Julia, right? She’s the WTA pro player who had quit tennis, sank into suicidal depression, and became bedridden. God used me to intervene in her potential suicide attempt on Christmas Eve 2005.

After the miraculous intervention, I brought Vakulenko to Florida and began rebuilding her on and off the court. I changed her tennis racket and strings to give her more control, taught her a topspindscf3924.jpg serve, and showed her the importance of hitting tight angles to pull her opponents off the court. Hours and hours we spent working on her ability to change the direction of the ball with power and confidence.

We focused on strengthening her legs and her stomach, and spent hour after hour on footwork drills. Vakulenko fell in love with dribbling a soccer ball and riding mountain bikes.

(Ana and I on a crazy shuttle bus ride in Lagos, Nigeria.)

I poured into Vakulenko’s tennis at no charge for weeks hoping to re-light her fire for life. Like all my students, she improved daily and loved what and how I taught her.

In addition, Julia had daily Bible studies with my other students, devotional time, and prayer time. We even traveled to an amazing Christian conference in Florida, and went to Georgia to listen to the testimony of a gifted Christian communicator.

Daily for the first 6 weeks, and I mean daily, Vakulenko told me how happy she was and how grateful she was to God for sending me into her life and giving her a new start. She wrote me beautiful notes and cards showing her appreciation.

While the first 6 weeks working with her were pretty good, the last 10-14 days were a living hell. I had confronted her on dscf3946.jpgwhat seemed to be prescription drug abuse. She started going ballistic.

(Melody Snelen and Ana exiting the airplane in Benin City, Nigeria)

Additionally, I confronted her to quit trying to recruit my students to either travel with her on the WTA tour or be coached by her mother in Barcelona. Which, according to my students, she had been secretly doing behind my back. I was beyond disappointed.

She also had set her sights on having Marek Czerwinski as her boyfriend and travel partner. Marek was a full time student of mine and had recently held the #1 ranking in B18 USTA. She claimed she could help him be a top ATP player and could give him the confidence he needed, if he only traveled with her.

I told Marek he needed to travel with several guys his age and ability level to about 35 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments a year for a few years, not shack up with her as the newest boy toy in her life! I told Julia to back off from the 18 year old boy!

Again, she went totally ballistic. (Needless to say after Marek shacked up with Vakulenko his pro career was a huge failure… he won just 5 matches in 2 years. Not too good for a guy whose main goal professionally was to beat Federer.)

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(Ana and “Lucy”, an ICTA Pro Team member who had formerly been suicidal but is now excelling in her joy for life. “Lucy” is wearing her DNO tshirt she is very proud to own)

I decided to not coach Julia full time on the WTA tour. My last week with Julia was spent incurring her wrath. Even so, I stayed true to my initial commitment and flew her to Las Vegas to compete in the Tennis Channel Open, where she officially began her comeback after suicidal depression, while ICTA hosted a large-scale outreach to 50,000+ tennis fans.

In Vegas after her first-round match, Julia apologized for her actions and gave me a big, thankful hug. For 10 minutes while standing next to the tennis court she cried, hugged me, and apologized for her actions the past couple weeks. I, of course, was glad. We then spent the day together, and part of the next.

But, the apology was short lived as she quickly ran back to the people who seemed to have abused her, some of the ones she claimed had helped drive her towards depression, and she began bashing me atnigeria-trip1-011.jpg every opportunity… most likely because of the conviction she felt while shacking up with Marek, who had bought into her manipulation hook, line, and sinker.

(Anastasia Kharchenko with “Ana’s kids,” a group of Nigerian youth who watched her first match and received Christian gifts from ICTA)

Before coming to train with me full time, Julia Vakulenko had an average WTA ranking of just 161 over a six year period.

After my training her full time, the following two years saw her average ranking improve to 76 WTA with her highest ranking being 31 WTA.

From what I understand Julia also earned prize money of approx $500,000 during those 2 years, more than doubling her total from the six previousnigeria-trip1-191.jpg years. She also defeated 3 top 10 WTA players, and made the 4th round of the US OPEN, her best Grand Slam showing ever.

(Rachel Snelen, Melody Snelen, and Anstasia Kharchenko with local Nigerians)

The statistics are there for anyone to view. There is a very clear line of distinction between her tennis ability before meeting and working with me, and her accomplishments after.

There is also a clear line between Vakulenko the first 5-6 weeks before I confronted her on issues, and the two weeks following the confrontation.

dscf3975.jpg(Anastasia before a match posing with local Nigerian painter at Nigeria’s National Tennis center)

Personally, I have few thoughts for or against Vakulenko for my time with her. The past is the past. I hope she has matured and faced her demons head on.

I also am not writing to pat myself on the back. I do not want or need new students and am not even slightly trying to use my success with rebuilding Vakulenko to make money.

I have coached other players who can beat players like Vakulenko 6-0, 6-0. Most ATP players ranked in the 1000s could beat her 0,0. And guys ranked in the 1000s are generally just solid juniors or college level players. That said, rebuilding Vakulenko is nothing for me to brag about at all.

dscf4284.jpg(Ana and Melody Snelen talking before Ana’s Final match)

Yet, though the past is the past and I have moved on long ago, I have recently discovered significant proof which seems to show Vakulenko has attempted to harm Ana’s blossoming pro tennis career.

Yes, Ana. A girl who has never even met Vakulenko. A girl who has dedicated her life to Christ and to helping others. A young person trying to make something of herself in a tough world.

The proof which has been brought to me has me thoroughly disappointed with Julia Vakulenko.

Yet, before I share more publicly, I want to make sure what I have been shown is 100% true, though given the sources I have no reason to doubt its authenticity. And if this information is proven false or even only 99% true, I’ll be more than happy to report that as well.

nigeria-trip1-370.jpgI could film a 10 hour documentary on the ridiculous Vakulenko soap-opera I’ve endured, but suffice to say you now have a better understanding of why I had no interest in training a Ukranian.

(Me looking on as Ana is winning her first ITF Pro Circuit title!)

As you can see, when Rachel called to inform me of Anastasia’s situation and told me she was a Ukrainian, I was less than thrilled. But, Rachel made a good argument and helped me get past my issues to see Ana’s desperate need.

dscf4294.jpgThank God!

(Ana hitting inside-out forehand during Final)

Ana quickly flew to Florida and escaped her abusive situation. It was a pretty funny scene as we both stared at each other in the Daytona airport. I didn’t trust Ukranians and she didn’t know who the heck I was!

Weeks later, Anastasia became a Christian and I became her legal guardian. And now she is my “adopted daughter!”

Anastasia’s story brings to mind Luke 15:4-7

4. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.nigeria-trip1-398.jpg

6. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and his neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7. I say unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, (more) than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance.

Ana has worked hard from the first day she trained with me. She is relentless in her ability to push her body as far as it will go. Her athletic genes she received from her father, who was a Ukrainian track star, have helped her tremendously.

Yet, what impressed me more about Anastasia is her hunger to improve in all areas of her life. Once she became a believer in Christ, Ana began reading everynigeria-trip1-410.jpg book she could on the Christian faith.

(Ana shaking hand with Nowak after easily defeating her 6-3, 6-1 in the Final. Ana didn’t drop a set the entire tournament)

This is especially impressive when you consider she had never read a book in English before!

Ana thoroughly enjoyed attending church, studying her Bible, and attending Christian conferences and concerts. Like a sponge she soaked it all in.

After much work improving upon Ana’s strengths in tennis, rebuilding her weaknesses, and defining her style of play, Ana hit the junior circuit in Florida… and went undefeated.

nigeria-trip1-415.jpg(Even though she easily won the Final, several aspects of her game needed to improve before the next tournament, so we went right to work after she shook the chair umpire’s hand.)

Anyone watching Anastasia compete understands she has the potential to become a professional tennis player. Yet, there is a great distance between juniors and pros.

Even a junior as talented as Ana, who clearly is equal to any top 10 ITF ranked junior, is currently only at a level to be competitive with players ranked 250 WTA and below.

Study top 100 ranked WTA players and you quickly realize the “overnight sensations” often took between 4 and 7 years competing on the ITF pro circuits to gain a high enough ranking to compete at WTA tour level events.nigeria-trip1-426.jpg

For Ana, this is year number two in her development.

(Ana speaking with the media after winning the first tournament. She spent most of her interview talking about Jesus. The entire interview was aired on Nigerian TV)

Currently, Ana is not thinking about competing in WTA level tournaments. She knows her upcoming new WTA ranking of approximately 725 is good, but nothing spectacular and that she has a lot of improving to do on her game.

nigeria-trip1-419.jpgShe is enjoying training and traveling with her friends on the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team. Ana is a Christian missionary spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those she meets.

(After each match, Ana jogged 2 to 3 laps with a local youth before stretching)

While tennis is important to her, she knows God may have other plans for her life.dscf4307.jpg

To say I was extremely glad for Anastasia as she won her first ITF Pro Circuit title would be an understatement.

(Rachel Snelen and Ana going back to hotel after Ana’s tournament victory)

She has worked hard and completely deserves to win. No one anywhere has worked harder.

Anastasia Kharchenko has beaten the odds and has earned a rare WTA ranking. Along the way God has been working in her life and teaching her life is about helping others, not herself.

nigeria-trip1-154.jpgCongratulations Ana!

You’ve done a great job on and off the tennis court.

(Local Nigerian woman we passed while driving to hotel helped to keep things in perspective)

You know God has blessed you with an ability to use your life for His will to be done.

The willingness you have to appreciate God’s blessings and use them to share His name to others is an inspiration.

Most people reading this article have little knowledge of the abusive damage done to players by the tennis system as they attempt to rise to the top of the pro rankings.nigeria-trip1-339.jpg

Julia Vakulenko and Anastasia Kharchenko are prime examples of great kids who have been battered by dysfunctional, criminal tennis coaches in a truly Godless international tennis industry.

(Ana and I sitting together developing friendships with locals during Rachel Snelen’s doubles match)

As a person who works full time in tennis as a missionary and ministry founder, I can assure you demonic spiritual warfare is alive in tennis and working to destroy as much as possible.

Honestly, I don’t blame someone like Vakulenko for being who she is. She can’t help it. The tennis system has used and abused players for a long time. Top players often have no idea how to be kind and giving, functional, Christ-like.

But, I do hold players like Vakulenko accountable for their pathetic actions. Such players cannot continue to be the moral compass of professional tennis and the example for youth to follow.

The only compass in tennis must be Jesus Christ. Not me, not you, not Ana or Julia… Jesus Christ crucified and nothing else.

nigeria-trip1-441.jpg(Me reading and giving away Gospel tracts to local youth)

Organizations, such as the International Christian Tennis Association, must be willing to take on the tough tasks of developing top players and giving them the opportunity to travel worldwide in the name of Christ.

Tennis players can be developed as Christian missionaries. Junior, pro, and college tournaments can be developed as a gathering place to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tennis industry companies, such as racket and string manufacturers, can be developed based solely on Christian principles.

pacificlife2007day30212.jpgTennis academies can be developed to add Christian values to the lives of those attending.

People in tennis worldwide are among the wealthiest and most influential in the world…

…reach them and you can win nations for Christ.

God bless,

Coach Scotty

March 6, 2008

3 Weeks in Africa: ICTA Christian Pro Tennis Team

Posted in Africa Tennis, anastasia kharchenko, Athletes in Action Tennis, Benin City Tennis, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, Christian Tennis Ukraine, Faith, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Love, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Teamwork, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , at 9:48 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf4301.jpgTrying to find the right words to explain the impact the Nigerian people have had on my life will be difficult.

(pic of me with Nigerians God sent to guide and protect us)

To witness the love of Christ unconditionally flowing from people living in 3rd world poverty has rocked me to my core.

The people I met and spent time with didn’t keep calling Jesus “awesome” and “indescribable” when speaking of Him like I so often hear in America. They worshiped Him in trembling and fear and total trust.

I was blown away by the power of their faith and trust in God under such extreme, harsh conditions. Starving kids, little electricity, few police, sparse sanitation….

nigeria-trip1-221.jpgIn Benin City, Nigeria, I personally battled with two thoughts on a constant basis… “I want to leave right now.” and “I never want to leave.”

(pic of me on trash heap inside Nigerian National Tennis Center)

While unbelievable poverty took my breath away, their love of Jesus under such conditions breathed it back in.

My spoiled rotten, pathetically American, Christian viewpoint was quickly confronted by the reality of the Gospel being lived through the Nigerians God placed in my path.

Daily I struggled to not vomit as I openly was exposed by a patient God to my own disgusting, obviously trendy American view of worship of Him.

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(pic of Rachel and Melody Snelen, and Anastasia Kharchenko, with highly select youth attending tournament)

I am truly horrified at my inner lack of true knowledge of what it means to love Jesus with all my heart, and I am grateful for the Nigerians in Benin City who live to serve Christ in trembling and fear.

My eyes have been opened to the fact that my life and my ministry have simply been spiritually dead, though it never felt that way until I was confronted with Jesus speaking through His African followers directly to the lies I had bought into and made a lifestyle, lies that many American Christians call their own.nigeria-trip1-217.jpg

To say I am ashamed is a gross understatement.

(pic of Benin primary school)

Please don’t feel badly for me or try to console me. That’s not what I want or need.

I’m just being open with God’s work in me these last 3 weeks and I hope someone, somewhere can learn from my mistakes.

What I can say is that I hope and pray every American can have the God-blessed opportunity to spend a day, a week, a month, or a lifetime in Benin City, Nigeria. You might come alive in ways you may never have known possible. God’s glory will truly be revealed to you as it was to me.

dscf4494.jpgHonestly, in the beginning of scheduling our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team tours for 2008, I didn’t really want to go to Nigeria.

(pic of Anastasia Kharchenko hitting a swinging volley winner.)

It was too far away, too expensive, too dangerous, too different.

But, after prayer, I knew God was calling our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team to go to Benin City, and he opened all doors to make it happen.

My role in the trip originally was to go for just 4-5 days to help the girls arrive safely. God had other plans for my time.

Upon arriving in Benin, after a 29 hour journey, it was obvious to see the love the people have of Jesus. Benin is a Christian stronghold, the last in Nigeria. It is also the country’s capital.

Two thing first overwhelmed me about Benin… the love they have of Jesus, and the unbelievable poverty.

During the first week, God led Nigerians to us to form a team. One by one Nigerians with special skills felt called to offer help. I curiously watched these people be placed in our path. As I know how God works, I knew He had something planned!

Let me first give a quick background of Nigeria and it’s capital, Benin. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world. It is the world’s 8th largest exporter of crude oil.

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(pic of Rachel Snelen reading the Bible to Nigerian youth)

Why such poverty then? The Nigerian government is ridiculously corrupt.

Nihu Ribado, the chairman of the EFCC, alleges past Nigerian leaders have stolen over 550 billion dollars of revenue since independence from England was established about 40 years ago.

To really appreciate this amount, realize it is 6 times the amount it cost to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan after World War II, with dollars adjusted for today’s inflation.

Basically, Benin should be one of the richest cities in the world… like Dubai.

Unfortunately, radical Islam has rooted itself in northern Nigeria. The Niger Delta region has 12 year old kids with machine guns claiming they’re sent by God to kill infidels, which is anyone non-Muslim.. The potential oil money from gaining control of Nigeria is huge. The money could wage an unbelievable Holy War.

dscf4436.jpgWhile coaching Anastasia during the two ITF Pro Tournaments and leading the missions team, I noticed something very troubling happening in Benin, particularly with the kids.

(Anastasia Kharchenko running forehand during match in which she qualified for a WTA ranking)

Radical Islam was seeking to gain a foothold in Benin using youth sports.

At first I doubted myself as to what I was seeing. I stayed quiet and kept my eyes open.

But God clearly opened my eyes further. Since I spread the Gospel of Jesus through sports, I recognized radical Islam using sports to further their agenda.

God then used Ana to show me a newspaper article, which tied everything together and gave me proof, the serious proof I needed.

I spoke with a trusted friend from Benin. He told me I am in great danger. He knew the power of my accusations, information, and logical argument, when combined with the proof I had gathered, would cause a surge of anger from Muslims in power and place me in harm’s way.

To make a long story short, the largest church in Africa has been alerted to my findings. They had know Islam has been attempting to infiltrate Benin, but did not know youth sports was a vehicle.

Islam wants the oil money and more radical teenage holy warriors. They are attempting to gain the allegiance of youth through daily gaining their trust through sports. It is a technique which has been used for centuries, and one that I use as well to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As such it was easy for me to see, much like it is easy for one tennis player to recognize another by the way they dress, speak, act, etc.

My last week in Benin was spent developing a plan in cooperation with Nigerian Christian youth sports leaders and pastors. I gave many TV interviews speaking about Jesus, formed a strong team to expose Islam through media, educated one of Nigeria’s foremost sports development experts, and helped plan an informative booklet.

Hopefully, it’ll help.

dscf4605.jpgOn another note, during this entire journey of deepening our faith and commitment to Jesus, our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team team competed in two ITF pro tournaments.

(Anastasia Kharchenko holding her trophy for winning both ITF pro circuit tournaments held in Benin)

Rachel and Melody Snelen, Anastasia Kharchenko, and the rest of the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team held an amazing outreach in Benin. More about this will be written in our developing blog dedicated to Nigeria.

For now, thank you for your prayers and support of the International Christian Tennis Association.

I’d like to leave you with an email which was sent to me by the dad of one of my longtime students, Newbie. I did not have email access to read it until two nights ago when I returned home. The timing of when he sent it as compared by the amazing events unfolding in Benin gave me goose bumps and chills.

Thank you all for your prayers. Because of your faithfulness, an Islamic plan to militate youth has began to be thwarted. I think you’d all agree it would be much better for Benin youth to have tennis rackets in their hands instead of machine guns.

The danger we experienced was real, but God’s hand and provision was everywhere.

God bless, Scott Paschal

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Hey Scotty:

A funny thing happened to me this morning. I was doing my workout and God spoke to me and said, “Pray for Scotty, right now.” It was about 9 am. I got down on my knees and prayed that God would be with you and cover you with the blood of Jesus to keep you from all harm.

I prayed too that God will pour out His love on you; fill your heart with all the love that is in His, because He loves you and delights in you. I felt too, that you were under attack, and that God wanted me to share these verses with you:

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations….
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Psalm 33:10-11 and 18-21.

He also gave me these verses from Acts for you: Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found to fight against God. Acts 5:38-39

For the past few days, you have been on my mind and in my prayers. God seems to be telling me that He loves you so much He wants to pour His love and peace into your heart until your heart is so full of God’s love that it just pours over into the lives of all those you touch.

God sees your heart, Scotty, and He know you love Him and want to serve Him. He is blessing you right now. He loves you more than anyone and you are more precious to Him than anything on earth. You are His son, and He loves you just as He does Jesus, your older brother.

He’s asking me to share this one more verse with you: Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Luke 15:31.

I don’t know what this is all about, Scotty, but I do want you to know you are not alone, that you are loved and respected, and that I stand with you in all that you do.

In the Father’s love. Ken