"It's better to give than to receive" is a phrase that fits Staples girls tennis junior captain Farrel Levenson to a T. For the second straight year, she ran the Grassroots Tennis High School Autumn Classic tournament, which is open to high school varsity and JV doubles teams with the proceeds of the tournament benefitting Norwalk Grassroots Tennis.

The tournament has grown in its second year, with more than 11 high schools participating, up from a couple of schools from last year. There were more than 50 doubles teams competing this year, up from 18 in 2008.

In 2008, $3,000 was raised, but this year, the tournament, coupled with a cocktail party, which was attended mostly by the parents of the players, raised more than $12,000.

"I thought it went extremely well," says Levenson. "Expanding the tournament obviously expanded the participation and revenue from it. The level of play was very competitive. The willingness of people to give back while playing a sport [got many people involved]."

Seniors Austin Henry and Reed Andron of Fairfield Ludlowe won the varsity boys tournament while Fairfield Warde senior Haley Smola and junior Christy Schneider defeated Levenson and Staples senior captain lefty Molly Laux in the girls varsity finals.

Staples swept the JV tournaments with juniors Spencer Burns and Josh Kaseff taking the boys JV title and junior Kate McNee and sophomore Nicole Marcante ruling the girls JV tournament.

Norwalk Grassroots Tennis has an annual budget of less than $200,000, with one full-time and 11 part-time staffers. Most of the people who help this organization, which provides opportunities for tennis players in Norwalk, are volunteers. It provides equipment, court time, tutoring, mentoring and most important, a safe environment for the players.

Through the funding Norwalk Grassroots Tennis has received from the work of Levenson and other volunteers, five of its players have achieved USTA rankings. It paved way for many students to receive college scholarships.

"Being on a tennis team only benefits me," says Levenson. "Just being on the court and the whole environment, the camaraderie and tennis mentality, only benefits me."

Levenson wants to make sure other kids have the same experience she has and is doing what she can to make it available to them. With her help, tennis has the potential to burgeon in Norwalk, which could make it tougher for the Wrecker and Lady Wrecker squads because these newly developed players could help Norwalk and Brien McMahon beat Staples in the foreseeable future. This doesn't faze her one bit because she recognizes that her work achieves a much higher purpose.

"It really isn't about winning and losing in the sport, but about people from a neighboring town who have a different life than you and trying to help them as much as possible," says Levenson.

The volunteer bug is catching on and many of her peers have approached Levenson about helping next year's tournament. She is confident that the 2010 tournament will be even bigger and raise even

Norwalk Grassroots Tennis has an annual budget of less than $200,000, with one full-time and 11 part-time staffers. Most of the people who help this organization, which provides opportunities for tennis players in Norwalk, are volunteers. It provides equipment, court time, tutoring, mentoring and most important, a safe environment for the players.

Through the funding Norwalk Grassroots Tennis has received from the work of Levenson and other volunteers, five of its players have achieved USTA rankings. It paved way for many students to receive college scholarships.

"Being on a tennis team only benefits me," says Levenson. "Just being on the court and the whole environment, the camaraderie and tennis mentality, only benefits me."

Levenson wants to make sure other kids have the same experience she has and is doing what she can to make it available to them. With her help, tennis has the potential to burgeon in Norwalk, which could make it tougher for the Wrecker and Lady Wrecker squads because these newly developed players could help Norwalk and Brien McMahon beat Staples in the foreseeable future. This doesn't faze her one bit because she recognizes that her work achieves a much higher purpose.

"It really isn't about winning and losing in the sport, but about people from a neighboring town who have a different life than you and trying to help them as much as possible," says Levenson.

The volunteer bug is catching on and many of her peers have approached Levenson about helping next year's tournament. She is confident that the 2010 tournament will be even bigger and raise even more money and ultimately, provide help for players in Norwalk and give them the type of support most people in Westport, Weston and other rich towns take for granted.

"Tennis teaches independence and fair play and it's always there for the kids," says Levenson. "A lot of people want to support the Autumn Classic and help kids whose lives are different [than their own]."