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Section Foundation Raises $19,000 for Children

August 28, 2008 09:51 AM

USTA Florida Section Foundation Raises $19,000 for Children
at USTA Florida’s 2007 Annual Meeting

USTA Florida’s 58th Annual Meeting, held Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Amelia Island Plantation Resort, was a huge success!  USTA Florida volunteers from around the state gathered together to reflect upon the positive impact tennis, and their efforts, have brought to communities throughout Florida in 2007.   Additionally, tennis supporters were honored with various awards for their dedication to the lifetime sport of tennis.

Children practice life skills at the current Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg education center.
For the second year in a row, the USTA Florida Section Foundation raised approximately $19,000 during the Annual Meeting to support two deserving organizations.  All proceeds benefit The Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg’s new education center and New Operation Cooper Street’s tennis court renovation project in Punta Gorda, Fla.  Profits from the Silent Auction were the highest that they have ever been in USTA Florida’s history, raising $11,595.  That is almost $3,000 more than in 2006!  Online donations, Casino Night, 50/50 proceeds, RSN clothing sales and Chrysler Test Drive donations added in to bring the total earnings to $19,000.

USTA Florida's Director of Community Development, Linda Curtis, was event director for the Silent Auction and Casino Night. 

"I am delighted that our volunteers enthusiastically embraced this opportunity to give back to the sport they love,” said Curtis.  “It is truly heartwarming to see such generosity, especially when it directly impacts the lives of hundreds of inner city children in St. Petersburg and Punta Gorda. 

“Tennis, along with education, mentoring and life-skills, will help these children develop into self-confident, thriving young people who can make a difference in the future of their communities.”

Children hit on the tennis courts at the SPTC
The Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg (TFSP) began managing and operating the St. Petersburg Tennis Center (SPTC) in October 2001.  A group of concerned citizens, tennis players, members and volunteers met and formed the foundation in order to preserve the historical tennis center after the City of St. Petersburg announced that the center would be closed.   Today, the tennis center is St. Petersburg’s only public soft-court facility featuring 16 har-tru clay courts and 4 hard courts, and hosts a dozen USTA sanctioned adult and junior tournaments while also providing year round play, leagues, events, lessons and clinics for the community. 

The SPTC has also hosted major tournaments featuring legendary players such as Jack Kramer, Don Budge, Doris Hart, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. 

The TFSP works to help disadvantaged, at-risk minority youth in the direct areas surrounding the St. Petersburg Tennis Center.  Upon receiving funding, the organization will create a new education center with more educators, tutors and educational supplies for the 30 plus children participating in the education portion of the program.  The center will reiterate Arthur Ashe’s message of learning and give many children an opportunity for school achievement and life-long education.

Mike Carol, executive director of TFSP, said, “We have modeled this program after the wisdom and example of Arthur Ashe, who was not only a good tennis player, but a true believer in education.

“Fortunately, we have our own example of this message in Motez Robinson, an African-American tennis professional at the center for the past four years.  Motez is a fine tennis player, instructor, writer and scholar.  He is popular with the children and makes learning cool for them.” 

New Operation Cooper Street is a non-profit after school recreation center in Punta Gorda that has been in operation for over 30 years.  It offers a safe haven for children from Charlotte County who are at risk and lack family support and structure in their homes.  There is no fee for children to come to the center, which offers homework help, classroom activities, snacks, and a recreation room inside as well a one tennis court, basketball court, playground and a pavilion outside.  The Charlotte County Community Tennis Association has been delivering an after school tennis program at Cooper Street for the past six years.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley hit New Operation Cooper Street hard, damaging their main building and ruining the tennis court.   The city was able to repair the facility and surrounding property; however the tennis court was left untouched.  Money raised from this year’s Silent Auction and Casino Night is being used to resurface their tennis court – a place that impacts over 50 students a semester. 

Graciela Nurse, Director of New Operation Cooper Street, said the kids are looking forward to playing tennis on a newly refurbished tennis court.  “We are very excited and thankful.”

Although the tennis court at Cooper Street needs resurfacing, that doesn't stop the children from playing tennis.

New Operation Cooper Street and TFSP give the lifetime sport of tennis and a helping hand to children that would never have an opportunity otherwise.  The USTA Florida Section Foundation is pleased to award these organizations financial and personal support for their noteworthy causes and program needs.






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