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Military Members, Veterans Get Some Tennis Therapy

Evening Edition

More than 50 military members and veterans gathered Tuesday at Morley Field to use tennis to reconnect, rehabilitate and re-energize their lives. They were there for the third annual National Wounded Warrior Tennis Camp.

The camp participants are from 20 different states and represent every branch of the military. Half of the participants served in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of the campers are wounded, ill, or injured.

Gahiji Bostic, 77, was pleasantly surprised when he received his invitation to attend the tennis camp. Bostic is a retired Marine and a cancer survivor. He also had a successful knee replacement a few years ago, but never considered himself a wounded warrior.

Though excited about his invitation, Bostic was also concerned about how he would pay to attend the camp.

“I didn’t know how I was going to get here, because I’m on fixed budget,” Bostic said.

Luckily, Bostic and all the other attendees’ food, lodging, and transportation costs during the four-day camp are completely paid for by various sponsors.

Steve Kappes is a retired Navy captain and president of the San Diego District Tennis Association, the main sponsor of the camp.

“This is the first program of its kind. It was when we started five years ago. We know of no other tennis community that is putting on annual camps for this population,” Kappes said.

About 50 volunteers from the local tennis community are providing the lessons for camp participants. Some veterans use wheelchairs designed specifically for tennis, and are being taught how to position their racket properly while also maneuvering their wheelchair.

Chris Bustamante says the camp has boosted his self-esteem as he prepares to retire from the Army this year.

“I feel so much energy running around on the courts now, and I feel better about myself,” Bustamante said.

The camp wraps up Friday with a round-robin competition, also at Morley Field.

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