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Coaching Profile: USTA Florida, Granitto Growing Hispanic Tennis

March 8, 2010 06:00 PM

Gustavo Granitto and 14-year-old student Victoria
Rodriguez, No. 357 on the ITF Rankings

By Rick Vach, ustaflorida.com

Hispanic tennis participation is on the increase in the U.S., according to United States Tennis Association (USTA) statistics, in no small part due to the organization of Hispanic coaches going on in South Florida.

Gustavo Granitto, who founded the GTC/PTA "Elite High Performance Group" tennis academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla., started the Hispanic Coaches Workshop in 2008 in an effort to bolster the Hispanic coaching community that caters to this growing segment. A joint tennis study by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) released last year shows a 32 percent increase among Hispanic tennis players of the 30 million Americans that took to the courts in 2009.

"Coaches that I met before in their own country that are now are living in the U.S. asked why couldn't we have workshops oriented for Hispanic coaches where they can express and discuss the realities of their jobs, and at the same time receive the most qualified information from prominent speakers, in their own language or with translation," Granitto said.

Over the past few years, USTA Florida has partnered with Granitto for grant funding of upwards of $5,000 for coaching workshops, including court fees and speaker's fees.

Last year's workshop, "How Hispanic Coaches Can Impact Tennis Development in the United States," tackled topics such as attracting and retaining Hispanic players, marketing programs, "The Integrated Training Concept," "Characteristics of Junior Hispanic American Players," "Breaking Cultural Barriers: Testimonies of Success," tennis education and certification, and "The Long-Term Development Concept: Link between QuickStart, Community Tennis and High Performance."

"It is a great avenue for these coaches for them to get information on how to run their business as well as all that is available to them and their players," says USTA Florida diversity staff liaison Shelly Licorice. "What we would like to see is something like this presented at the Tennis Teachers Conference in New York."

Granitto has more than 32 years of coaching experience, and directed the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) Worldwide Training Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from 1997-2003. From 1989-1992 he was director of coaches education for the Argentinean Tennis Association, Director of Coaching for the Mexican Tennis Federation (2006-2009) and from 1991-2005 he was the full-time ITF development officer for Mexico, Central American and the Caribbean region, serving players, coaches, administrators, and officials. He is also the co-author of "Developing Young Players," an ITF manual for junior development, among other articles and publications.

Since moving to Florida from Argentina full-time in 1999, he says he enjoys working with all age levels, but he particularly appreciates working with the 6-16 age group on long-term development.

"Playing recreational and/or competitive tennis can be one of the most formative personal experiences that a child or teen can find," Granitto says.

The rise of Hispanic participation and the organization of Hispanic coaches has yet to produce any top Hispanic-American touring pros, although USTA national officials say it is on the radar.

"I can tell you that the USTA is doing more grassroots programs in Hispanic neighborhoods," Miami-bred former player and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez told the Miami Herald last year. "I have done some in Miami and Cleveland, and that should help expose those kids to tennis."

Granitto says he has seen more than half a million kids in the more than 51 countries he has worked in get involved in the game through various ITF programs, and is seeing even more junior participation through the kid-friendly ITF Stay and Play and USTA QuickStart Tennis programs.

In addition to his academy and organizing coaching workshops, Granitto also serves the Hispanic and non-Hispanic tennis community through programs for parents and players that cannot afford full-time academy coaching, programs to certify coaches, and a management program to increase the business acumen of club and academy owners.

"I met Gustavo three years ago, working with him at the first Hispanic coaches workshop," says USTA Florida volunteer and board member Nancy Horowitz. "I was very impressed with the professionalism, dedication, and organization of the program. He demonstrates a true love for tennis, his clients, and colleagues. No matter what level player you are, beginner or tournament player Gustavo makes you feel special."

For information on Hispanic coaches workshops in 2010, please contact Gustavo Granitto at gusg@gtctennis.com. For information on Diversity Community Outreach Grants, which provide funding to organizations that integrate existing programs and develop new program initiatives that will substantially increase multicultural participation in USTA Florida programs, contact Shelly Licorish at licorish@florida.usta.com.






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