October 27, 2008

ICTA Christian Pro Tennis Team Ready to Compete in Argentina and Ecuador

Posted in Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Player, Faith, International Christian Tennis Association, melody snelen, rachel snelen, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 7:00 pm by Scott Paschal

David Nalbandian!  ATP Top 10.  From Argentina!

David Nalbandian! ATP Top 10. From Argentina!

The International Christian Tennis Association is preparing to send a group of Christian pro tennis player missionaries to South America for 4 straight weeks to compete in ITF Pro Circuit tournaments and share their faith in Jesus to those God sends!

I’m really, really excited about this special opportunity.

The ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team plans to journey to Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 20, 2008, and is scheduled to arrive in Quito, Ecuador by December 8, 2008, where they will stay until between the 18th and 22nd.

Competing in two ITF Pro Circuit tournaments back to back in Argentina, then two ITF Pro Circuit tournaments back to back in Ecuador, our Christian missionaries will have an incredible opportunity to shine for Christ in both countries, as well as test their ability to handle the hardships and adversity that come with such a long missionary journey.

Rafael Nadal with Nicholas Lapentti of Ecuador.

Rafael Nadal with Nicholas Lapentti of Ecuador.

Traveling for such long periods of time isn’t easy, it’s not as sexy as people like to think.

It’s hard, and it can be dangerous, particularly for girls heading to South America alone.

And as many of you know… Rachel and Melody Snelen, co-captains of ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team, are two of the most beautiful women on the pro tennis circuit.

They are noticed everywhere they go.  Both have amazing blue eyes, tan skin, long blonde hair, and are in world class physical shape.

That said, people notice them wherever they go.  They stand out.

They are also both outspoken individuals.

Rach and Mel have strong opinions and beliefs, and are able to openly and brilliantly share their thoughts and religious beliefs.

Melody Snelen, ICTA Pro Team Captain

Melody Snelen, ICTA Pro Team Captain

With this, they stand out even more….

But, as you can already figure, travel to certain countries can be very dangerous, particularly for those who stand out.  The news is full of stories about kidnappings and murders towards women visiting South America.

So why do Rachel and Melody Snelen constantly put their lives at risk and pour their money and time into Christian missions, both tennis related and non-tennis related?

If you don’t know, read your Bible.  More than read it, study it.  More than study it, live it and breathe it.

Maybe then you will get a clue….

Also going to South America is my “adopted” daughter, Anastasia Kharchenko, whom I have coached and have been legal guardian of for over 2 years.

In addition, up to two other players I coach could travel with the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team on parts of this missionary journey.

Plus, I’m trying to fit a couple of the tournaments into my schedule!  I wanna go, too!!  I enjoy traveling to new places and meeting people.  And I love watching God work through the willing hearts of missionaries who have given their hearts to Him.

Please keep this potential month long missionary journey in South America in your prayers, that the tournaments will go on as scheduled, that our missionaries will remain safe, and that their ministry is all that God has for it to be.

We look forward to showing you the neat pics and video we will take!!

God bless,

Scott Paschal

ICTA Women's Pro Tennis Team members at tournament

ICTA Women's Pro Tennis Team On-Site at Tournament Reaching Players, Coaches, Fans, Officials, and Volunteers for Christ

September 2, 2008

Rachel Snelen Leads ICTA Christian Tennis Outreach to Rome, Italy

Posted in Faith, International Christian Tennis Association, rachel snelen, Teamwork tagged , , , , , at 10:16 pm by Scott Paschal

Here are a few pictures from International Christian Tennis Association’s foundation laying Christian outreach to Italy.

The journey was a big success and Rachel Snelen, ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team Captain, did a fantastic job preparing and implementing this event to a safe and successful conclusion.  Currently, Rach is making blog specifically for her Outreach to Italy!  Pics and journal entries should be available this week!

My hope and prayer is other pro tennis players and world class junior tennis players will, following Rachel Snelen’s exemplary example, discover a passion for allowing God to use their lives and talents to make Him known as they travel to all parts of the globe competing in tennis events.

Nothing is more important than living for Christ.  Nothing.

God bless!

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

August 17, 2008

ICTA Outreach in Rome, Italy

Posted in christian tennis, Christian Tennis Player, International Christian Tennis Association, rachel snelen, scott paschal tagged , , , at 8:47 pm by Scott Paschal

Rachel Snelen, ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team Captain, is in Rome, Italy leading a foundation-laying missions’ outreach!

Rachel Snelen and the team landed yesterday and, after locating their hostel and taking a short nap,  began scouting out Rome.  Today, she mentioned they took a 2 hour bus tour of Rome and she commented on the hugeness of the Vatican.

This outreach is a big deal for International Christian Tennis Association as we prepare for future tours of the Italian ITF Pro Circuit with our Christian pro tennis players.

Please keep Rachel Snelen and the team in your prayers.  She is taking pictures and writing a journal to share with you.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

May 25, 2008

ICTA Christian Tennis Association Party @ Disney Hollywood Studios MGM

Posted in anastasia kharchenko, Athletes in Action Tennis, Christian Discipleship, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Camps, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, melody snelen, Parent Coach Relationship, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Teamwork, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Typical Parent Visit to ICTA, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:59 pm by Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association headquarters is based in Florida, and pretty near Disney World. During some down time in between ICTA mission trips and academy semesters, we decided to visit Disney Hollywood Studios!

What a great time we all enjoyed.

Pictured here to the right is me and Lindsey (she’s also pictured above pushing me in a wheelchair). Lindsey’s Dad, Kevin (pictured above) is my good friend of many years.

He is a medical doctor, and a solid 5.0 tennis player. I bought him his first Bible. What a privilege.

We are so alike it is ridiculous… same age, same weight, same height. God brought us together years back, and that’s when I met Lindsey! I’ve known her since she was just a little squirt in elementary school….

Now, Lindsey is a full time student at my academy and my house is pretty much a second home for her.

As Kevin and I are so much alike… and since I’ve known Lindsey for so long… I’m basically an adopted uncle.

Honestly, it is such a special honor to be involved in shaping and molding the lives of the next generation.

I know God placed special people in my life when I was a teen, and now it feels awesome to be able to be used by God to give back!

While some of my academy students won’t be here til the summer semester begins in a week or so, several are here and we all enjoyed hanging out together.

Anastasia Kharchenko (on left w/ Melody Snelen) is back home with me getting some rest after many weeks on the ITF Pro Circuit competing in pro tennis tournaments, and serving on the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team.

Ana is my “adopted daughter” from Ukraine and a new Christian. She loves Jesus so much and wants to share her knowledge of Him to other players on the pro tour.

This year, 18 year old Anastasia earned her WTA pro ranking, and won two ITF Pro tournaments. And a week or so ago she played a player ranked around WTA #180 and lost a close one… 6-2, 7-5, which gave her some confidence she can compete at that level.

Currently, Ana is on her way to South Carolina to begin a 6 week tennis and missions tour with the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team that will take them from South Carolina to Texas to Kansas to Boston. Please keep them in your prayers as they seek to share Christ with those placed in their path.

This neat guy is Aussie, a nickname we gave him because he’s from… you guessed it, Australia.

Aussie is awesome! What a special, unique personality he is. Aussie’s dad is a pastor, and they own a farm. I’ve coached Aussie full time for about a year.

He and Mark (Mexico) share a room in my house and have become like brothers. They have certainly formed a bond that will last a lifetime.

Aussie has amazing parents. They love our entire tennis/missions academy program, and are thrilled Aussie has grown in so many wonderful ways. Here is an email they sent me last week…

Hi Scotty,

Thank you so much for your email. Our communication with you is way overdue..sorry! We pray for you all daily. David is missed here also, but know without a doubt that he is where the Lord wants him, knowing he is being very well looked after, challenged and guided in life. Thankyou for all that you are doing for him and each of the others. We love to hear about everyone at ICTA.

We know David has mentioned this to you, but would like to ask if it is OK if his sister, Tish, can come and stay with you for a few days. They will fly into Daytona Beach… Tish is so looking forward to meeting you all – I hope having two Aussies isn’t too stressful for you!!

At your convenience, we would love to hear of David’s on and off-court progress, and any ways we can encourage and guide him from a distance.

Thank you again so much.

God bless you and all you do.
Rich & Eilie

So great to have healthy, solid Christian parents sending such special emails of support. It is incredible for me to realize International Christian Tennis Association is having such a discipleship impact for the Kingdom!

Pictured here is ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team captain, Rachel Snelen (left), with “Lucy.”

Lucy’s story is amazing! She came to me not quite a year ago… and she was highly suicidal. Coaches, and life, had treated her pretty horribly.

Boy have things changed! Lucy is on-fire for life! Every single aspect of her young personality has improved, and she is an inspiration to all of us.

She is even an inspiration to her atheist Dad! He is amazed at the transformation taking place in her! In fact, three weeks ago he flew in from Japan. We talked at length through a translator. He asked me to coach Lucy for the next 5-6 years, and was so grateful for my work. I was almost in tears…

He is even interested in investing in condos at a tennis facility we build, if ICTA ever builds one. Since he owns a bunch of Japanese restaurants in South America, I take his investment interest as a great compliment.

(pic of me looking at Walt Disney, one of my favorite people and examples!)

It has taken me nearly 10 years to build International Christian Tennis Association.

As I look around for the fruit of my labor, I have to look first to my academy/missions kids. What a treasure they have been in my life.

Generally, I’m not a person with much patience, and I prefer to have plenty of space around me. But, God invaded my life through kids from 15 countries and 14 US States… kids who have camped out in my house… and ate all my food… and constantly hang around me… and God taught me so much through them I can’t begin to tell you in a simple journal entry.

10 years is a long time. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown a lot. Hopefully, I’ve helped some people along the way.

Whatever God has coming up for me in the future, whether it’s with International Christian Tennis Association or not, the last 10 years have been good. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

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!

rach-002.jpg

(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

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.)

dscf3959.jpg

(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

————————-

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

January 1, 2008

X-Treme New Year!

Posted in anastasia kharchenko, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Fellowship, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, International Tennis Ministry, melody snelen, rachel snelen, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Athletes in Action, WTA Tennis at 2:25 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf3390.jpgFor the last couple of years I have been so blessed and feel so grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate the new year in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the X-treme Winter Conference.

(Pic of Ergun Caner on stage)

An X-treme Conference is something I wish all teens worldwide could experience at least once.

Gatlinburg is a beautiful mountain resort town. Right down the road is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Basically, both places together combine to make a “Grand Slam” doubles team.

dscf3460.jpgThere is so much to do in this area… Skiing, Amusement Parks, Aquariums, Shows, Outlet Shopping, and more….

(Pic of ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team celebrating New Year!)

This time of year 100,000 teens invade Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge with their church groups from all over the region to attend different Christian conferences and spend time with friends.

X-treme Conference for me has been fantastic….

Last night, I sat in the 3rd row with Anastasia and my Indonesian student while Chris Tomlin captured the audience for Christ with amazing worship. He is a blast to watch on stage!dscf3436.jpg

X-treme Conferences are typically a few days long, depending on which one you choose.

(Anastasia Kharchenko posing for a pic)

There are generally 2 session per day, morning and evening. Each session brings among the best Christian Gospel communicators in America, along with a wide assortment of fantastic Christian worship artists.

This year’s Christian bands included Toby Mac, Newsong, Unhindered, DJ Maj, Skillet, Britt Nicole, Sanctus Real, and Chris Tomlin.

Ergin Caner, David Nasser, Johnny Hunt, and Tony Nolan captured the hearts of the youth and the youth leaders with thought provoking messages.

dscf3450.jpgA highlight for me was witnessing hundreds and hundreds of kids come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

(Pic of Rachel Snelen, Anastasia Kharchenko, and Melody Snelen)

I realize people from well over 100 countries will read this, and 99% of you have never, ever attended a Christian event like X-treme Conferences.

I hope some day you can, though I realize most conferences stay in America which does make it difficult.

I do know Passion Conferences, which are generally for college age, are going global in 2008. Check out www.268generation.com.

Inspirational speakers, fantastic bands, awesome mountain resort town, good friends… I’ve had such a great time

Rachel and Melody Snelen, who co-captain the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team, and Anastasia Kharchenko, a teammate, have been working a friend’sdscf3392.jpg merchandise booth here at X-treme Conference again this year and have had a blast, as well.

(Pic of Rachel Snelen and Anastasia Kharchenko working at the DNO table.

Rach and Mel, have a terrific ministry to the ITF pro tour reaching WTA players, world class juniors, and more.

We’re all packing up to leave tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the drive. I love road trips, especially through mountains!

Before I sign off, I’d like to thank each of you who have written me for Christmas and New Year.

In my Christmas newsletter, I mentioned I was hangin’ with the dog as everybody had gone for the holidays. Upon reading that, you guys immediately flooded my email with love from you!dscf3514.jpg

I also mentioned to send in prayer requests. Thank you so much for those of you who responded. I know this time of year can be difficult. Your entrusting me with your prayer needs really meant the world.

I know that I don’t have the answers, but, together, we can prop each other up and use all situations to glorify Him.

Please send me some stories of what you did for the holidays.

God bless each of you.

Happy New Year!

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

November 29, 2007

Martina Hingis Cocaine Situation

Posted in Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Love, Martina Hingis, melody snelen, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Sports Ministry, Teamwork, Typical Parent Visit to ICTA, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:42 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf7128.jpgAfter just 4 months with our new blog format, our ICTABlog family has about 500 dedicated readers. Nice.

My journal articles from the other site transfered over pretty well, so you will still have access to previous writings.

Often, I hear from you in the form of emails or phone calls.

(Pic of Mark with his mom and dad, who are church planting missionaries in Mexico. It was great having them stay a couple nights with us at my house while visiting Mark)

Here is a recent written comment from a Tennis Mom…

“Thanks for the stories and pictures and all that you do. I wish you guys were closer to Las Vegas where we live. I have two outstanding junior players Kristofer and Kimberly. Both are raised the Christian way. We do not belong to any church but as there mother I do the best I can. Of course I could use some help since teens do not always want to listen to their mother. It would be awesome to have my almost 14 year old son experience an environment that you provide for your players in Florida. God Bless you and please take care.” Gabriella

I really appreciate this mom’s thoughts. She’s right, too. Kids in tennis need to experience a high-performance tennis training environment that connects with their faith in Jesus.

In my view, I fully believe every junior tennis player in the world should have the opportunity to experience world-class tennis training, international tournaments, and Christian outreach. I’ve personally seen the life-changing impact this has on kids and their families.

dscf2912.jpgTennis needs positive, life-impacting stuff, right now.

(Pic of Rachel and Melody Snelen, ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team members, posing on a wall at King Herod’s palace in Cesaeria, Israel during an outreach.)

Speaking of positive and life-impacting, can I be controversial for a minute on the Martina Hingis situation?

Martina, your 12 years as a role model to the world’s youth have earned my respect. Your 12 years being known as an honest person on the WTA tour has earned my respect.

Your dedication to the game, your excellence in your broadcasting career, your passion in your comeback… all while proving yourself 100% free of any banned substances for 12 years of mandatory testing by the ITF is awe inspiring.

I fully believe, as you have stated, that you have never taken drugs.

Thus, my challenge to the ITF is this…

Prove to the tennis world that Martina isn’t the victim of a “modern day stabbing” by a jealous fanatic, such as Monica Seles’ situation. Instead of thrusting a knife into a player in front of an international audience, possibly criminals have become smarter?

Honestly, it would be simple to contaminate a player. How? Simply lace a pen with cocaine and have the player use it to sign an autograph.

Or add cocaine to the fuzz on a big yellow tennis ball and gently pat or shake it in front of the player’s face as you reach forward for her to sign… or sneeze a minute amount of a banned substance out of your hand in the player’s direction as you walk by…. or shake her hand with your contaminated cocaine hand….

Soon, an official ITF tribunal will formally submit its findings. Most likely, Hingis will be found “guilty” and punished. What is the checks and balances of the system? Really, almost nothing. The bad guys very well could win this one.

I’d like to see Hingis be able to take a lie-detector test at the very least and have that weighed in when the ITF tribunal evaluates evidence.

And… I’d like to see the urine tests of the people who make up the tribunal ;). Or to see mandatory drug testing for all ITF and USTA staff and coaches. Would be interesting to see how their lives change when they are forced to live daily with the knowledge they, too, could be easily and quickly contaminated by a common passerby with an agenda.

Tennis is a multi-billion dollar industry. Billions and billions. The money is huge and the stakes are high. Players are often in difficult situations…. What, if anything, is the ITF doing to truly protect them?

Shoot, even Tommy Haas recently was tested to see if he was poisoned in Russia during Davis Cup. The “official” ruling by the ITF after they studied the results of his blood test was that no poisoning happened, and they slammed the door shut. But, what fool would have used a poison that could still be detected in a blood test weeks after the poisoning occurred….

Has anyone ever heard of the Russian mafia, illegal sports betting, threats to athletes…?

Hello!? There is more to this multi-billion $ industry than Rafa vs Fed, and the latest Tennis magazine.

In life, all of us will go through different trials. Maybe we discover a loved one has cancer or a heart condition. Maybe we lose our income. Or possibly the guilty stamp will be placed on our lives without regard to innocence.

In those times, the hardest of times, where do you turn?

I turn to Jesus. I turn to a Savior I have researched for nearly 20 years and know beyond doubt is real. I turn to the one whose signature is woven in my DNA, whose intelligence can be seen in the placement of the earth in the sky, whose life and death and resurrection is proven beyond doubt…

… who has personally impacted me in a way that leaves me with no options but to listen and know He is God.dscf7117.jpg

(pic of Jon, who i’ve coached for 3+ years, and me during Thanksgiving dinner at church. nice 3D shades, Jon… not)

I have tough things happen to me. My testimony would leave you in tears. I had every excuse to go bad, to follow a bad life down a bad path.

But, like Martina, my earthly life was contaminated. Yet, not by cocaine, but by Christ.

My hardest time in life led me to my Savior.

The issue isn’t cocaine and did she do it or who “stabbed” her.

The issue is where will she turn? Who has her attention?

My prayer is Martina Hingis, like you and me, will rely on the only One who is truly reliable.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

November 18, 2007

Best Week

Posted in christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ChristianTennis Israel, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Leadership, Love, melody snelen, Parent Coach Relationship, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Sports Ministry tagged , , , , at 1:28 am by Scott Paschal

This last week has been one of the best I’ve had since God signed me up for the ministry.

It’s hard to describe, but I feel great. More than just physically.

Affirmations are being shown to me that my life does have a purpose.dscf7091.jpg

If you had known me as a teen or college student, you would have seen a different me.

(a pic of three of my students this morning.)

In fact, if it hadn’t been for a tenaciously patient blonde from Texas who had an inability to quit on me in college during the 3 most difficult years of my life (and probably hers!), I wouldn’t be here.

I had bought into Satan’s lies. I felt worthless. She disagreed.

I believe God sends people to help us. People, who God inspires and directs.

(a pic of Mark, me, and Ana after church last Sunday)dscf2365.jpg

Have you ever been in the zone?

Where every ball you hit goes where you want it to go and everything seems to be moving in slow motion, and the only sound you hear is your heart beating.

I’m in that zone right now. Yet, it’s different than tennis. It’s a clarity for my purpose in God’s ministry in this season of my life.

For those of you who know me, you know I have never been given anything in my life. If I had anything, I worked to get it. From money to directions in life, I’d been given nothing. Ever.

Thank God.

I learned how to scrap and get the job done. I learned to see opportunity others missed. I learned to take nothing for granted.

I also have learned that though I was given nothing, I was given everything. God created me uniquely. I am an original created for His exact purpose to fulfill his exact plan for this life.

For those of you who have been praying for me, thank you and please don’t stop. I need your prayers.dscf6935.jpg

I have less than two years to reach my main goal I had set when I turned 17.

(parent’s of former students visiting recently. brent’s dad, Jim, and joe’s mom, Sue.)

The finish line is ahead, I can see the checkered tape! I know what I have to do to succeed and I’ll fight with all I have to get the job done. I see the purpose, now. It makes sense. It’s all added up. The job will get done.

Again thank you for your prayers! Some of you have been praying for over 20 years….

Updates on ICTA!!

*Lucy has turned her entire life around. Vakulenko aside, this is one of the most amazing hope-less to hope-filled changes I’ve witnessed. She is happier, healthier, and feels dscf7065.jpgGod loves her and reached out to her!

I made the decision to step out in faith to reach one of God’s lost sheep because God called me to do it. The work hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

(pic of Mel with international student at tournament outreach)

My high school football coach took care of me in my difficult times. In a way, he lives on through his work with me. Thanks coach!

*I’m preparing to take an ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team to Mexico City for an outreach to a pro tournament in which they will compete. We leave next week.

*Our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team in Israel checked in today. They are safe and doing well. To follow their journey, go to http://www.israelchristiantennis.wordpress.com.

Thus far they have had a fellowship meeting with other believers, prayer and singing, explored old Jerusalem, went to the Mount of Olives, prayed at the Wailing Wall, visited the Garden Tomb, met a Christian group from Alabama and joined them for communion, went to the Villa Del A Rosa where Jesus carried the cross, went to the Rock of the Dome…

(pic of Rach working with international students at ICTAHouse during pro team tour break) dscf6967.jpg

Their hosts have been such a blessing. We will not be able to share with you their names, but please keep them in your prayers.

To wrap this entry up, thanks go out to so many of you who have sent me such neat emails and phone calls. I know it’s not easy to do, and I really appreciate every contact we receive.

I work an average of 100 hrs a week. Every week. At random times I get neat emails or phone calls from you guys, and my load suddenly get lighter!

You all make me feel blessed and cared for. Thanks.

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

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