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Florida Panhandle Leading 10 and Under Tennis Surge

March 10, 2011 10:50 AM
Strapped tennis facilities receive USTA Florida "Share the Love" grants to begin offering 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format

The Panhandle region of Florida, beginning in Tallahassee and stretching to tennis clubs in Santa Rosa Beach, Pace, Miramar Beach, Destin and Pensacola Beach, is fast becoming a hot spot for 10 and Under Tennis following "Share the Love" grants for child-sized racquets, balls, nets, blended courts lines and other training equipment for small children taking up the game.

Patrick Morris and students at the Becnel/Kelly Club
10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format has been both a boon to beginner tennis development and increasing revenue for clubs across Florida via the influx of children that flock to programs. But many clubs and facilities have not been able to afford the costs of starting a program during difficult economic times.

"Our club is in a middle-class neighborhood that has definitely been affected by the poor economic state, and this is an affordable and exciting new way to get these kids hooked on tennis," said John Vinson, the head tennis professional at Killearn Lakes Racquet and Swim Club in Tallahassee that received a USTA Florida grant. "I'm offering QuickStart to my younger students already involved in tennis, as well as introducing it to the kids across the street from my club at Killearn Lakes Elementary School, and at the local pre-school."

The Seaside Swim & Tennis Club is another facility that has only been able to launch a 10 and Under Tennis program after a grant from USTA Florida.

"It is a very small club with limited resources, but they have a very strong following of young kids who do not come from tennis families, but enjoy the game very much," said former Seaside pro Brad Pomeroy. "With QuickStart they enjoy tennis that much more. The kids programs were already strong, but with the new QuickStart equipment they are seeing new growth in the programs and better financial results."

USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and low-compression balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes. To see a video of 10 and Under Tennis in action go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com.

"We need a program that allows younger kids to experience tennis and have success almost immediately," says head pro Holley Guarachi of the Destin Tennis Club. "I am encouraged as to our success with this program after attending the USTA Florida QuickStart Workshop at Sandestin."

A total of $2,000 in QuickStart equipment was also granted to Destin clubs at The Club at Silver Shells and the Becnel/Kelly Club. The City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department received $6,800 for three community projects at community centers throughout the city.

The Portofino Island Resort & Spa is another facility that has launched 10 and Under Tennis due to a USTA Florida grant during difficult economic times.

"The budget at Portofino does not allow for us to buy equipment for tennis programs," said Arthur Anastapoulo of the Portofino Island Resort & Spa. "This is an opportunity for ample exposure of QuickStart as we offer programs for schools and churches during the large summer tourist season."

Earlier "Share the Love" grants for 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format equipment in 2010-11 have gone to additional Tallahassee facilities, including the Golden Eagle Country Club, Maclay School, and Killearn Country Club.

"The Florida Panhandle (Region 1) has experienced some of the strongest growth in Florida in 10 and Under Tennis," said George English, tennis program coordinator for Region 1. "This is due in part to the equipment given out to the clubs and facilities through the 'Share the Love' grant program. The pros and parents in the region have strongly embraced the QuickStart play format. They are helping ensure that the children have fun while learning the game of tennis, which is one of the most important goals of 10 and Under Tennis."

USTA Florida annually directs 90% of member dollars back into the community to support tennis programs and projects throughout Florida. USTA Florida's "Share the Love" grant program helps fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times.
"It is with the annual membership dues from USTA Florida members that we are able to offer these community program grants in area such as Tallahassee," said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director, Play Tennis Division, Andy McFarland. "USTA membership does really make a difference in tennis in the Florida community."






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