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Florida Tennis Briefs(3): Miami 10-U Craze; Blended Lines; Sarasota Open Events

February 25, 2011 02:53 PM
QuickStart Tennis mini-courts at the Palm Coast Tennis Center
Miami 10 and Under Tennis Craze: 7 New Miami Grants for Total of $58K, Former Andy Roddick Coach Using QuickStart

The USTA's new 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart format of play is creating a wave of new junior tennis players throughout Miami. Now seven new 10 and Under Tennis/QuickStart grants have been announced in February for a total of 11 Miami-area grants through USTA Florida's "Share the Love" initiative.

Teaching pros, among them the former coach of Andy Roddick, are adopting 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format to ease small children into the game in a fun play-centered format that accelerates a child's progression.

"Since June we have given 27 sites 'Share the Love' grants for a total of approximately $58,000 into the Miami area, all of it going to QuickStart," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Miami area Cathy Nordlund. "I've held six QuickStart workshops and have trained more than 210 teaching pros. In addition to the Share the Love grants, with diversity grants we've been able to provide additional facilities with QuickStart equipment."

USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed 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.

Approximately $9,500 in additional 10 and Under Tennis equipment grants were announced in February for six Miami-area individuals or facilities: Big Little Racquet Tennis Academy in Sunny Isles (Luis Tomas Gaviria), Reiner Heinser Tennis Academy in Miami, David Park Tennis Center in Hollywood (Lyndsey Murphy), Sans Souci Tennis Center (Ross Dubins) in North Miami, City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department, and MP Management in Hallandale (Dean Goldfine).

Goldfine is the former coach of pros Andy Roddick, Todd Martin, Xavier Malisse, Aaron Krickstein, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Mardy Fish among other players, and is now concentrating on raising future champions at his academy in the Miami area.

"I'm super excited to start introducing the kids to QuickStart Tennis," said Goldfine, also a former coach for the U.S. Olympic tennis team. "The Dean Goldfine International Tennis Academy is attracting more and more kids between the ages of 4 and 10. I can't think of a better way to get them started then with the QuickStart method. Thanks to the USTA 'Share the Love' grant, we'll be able to get even more kids onto the courts than ever before."

The Big Little Racquet Tennis Academy takes an after-school tennis approach, offering lessons from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, matching children in the same skill range and building healthy habits to fight obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.

"This is a perfect way to help kids with the basic hand-eye coordination and basic movements in a fun way," Gaviria said. "This program will also help to prevent obesity and unhealthy lifestyles in kids as they participate in different activities such as tournaments and lessons. It also helps the parents to share time with their kids."

Cyndi Johnston is the Jr. Team Tennis/QuickStart coordinator for South Miami-Dade, and says buy-in from teaching pros and parental involvement are key to the area's success.

"Tamiami Park, Grove Isle, Salvadore and CTA Academy are the four facilities who participate in the 10 and under Tennis league," Johnston said. "We had over 60 kids playing this past season. We had all the teams play at one location the first two weeks so we could teach the parents how to run the QuickStart matches."

Johnston said a large part of the success was Salvadore Tennis Director Robert McNichols requiring teaching pros from the City of Coral Gables to take the USTA Florida Recreational Training Workshops, and getting city racquetball courts lined for 36-foot mini-courts. Johnston also has her high school-age Jr. Team Tennis players helping out with the 8-and-under beginners (and getting school credit for community service). But again parents, say Johnston, have made the difference with some of the most successful programs in the city.

"When you have a parent like Joan Melendez from Grove Isle, who does not even play tennis herself but takes on the captain duties like a pro, it makes the kids see the progression and anticipation to move on into the regular Jr. Team Tennis program," Johnston said. "We had a Grove Isle team that has been with the us for all three seasons, with kids progressing from the 8-and-under format, then the 10-and-under format, and now are ready to play the 12-and-under." 

McNichols said that after some initial hesitation about the new program, he has seen increases in the activity and revenue produced by 10 and Under Tennis at the Salvadore Park Tennis Center.

"We changed our 10-and-under junior program to the QuickStart method in late February 2010, shortly after I came to Salvadore. There was some initial skepticism among the teaching staff regarding setting up nets, and parents' lack of approval," Salvadore said. "Soon after the staff attended a QuickStart workshop and began using the QuickStart format, QuickStart became the buzz at the club. A few months later I formed our first QuickStart league team consisting of five players. Our QuickStart teams grew from one to a total of eight teams, with 35-40 players for spring 2011, less than one year after starting the program. We presently have 68 QuickStart players enrolled in January 2011. That is an 84% increase in participation and revenue."

The newer clubs adopting the QuickStart format join these facilities that, in addition to Salvadore, have a head start with 10 and Under Tennis in late 2010 through 'Share the Love' grants from USTA Florida in the Miami area: Sinai Academy in North Miami Beach for their "Play Tennis Make Friends" program; $10,000 to Miami-Dade Parks & Rec. for their Out-of-School Tennis after-school program servicing more than 1,500 children; the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami which has 135 children registered in the 10-and-under program; and Miami's Diamond Minds Academy, which received a grant for court repairs and USTA Ten and Under Tennis/QuickStart equipment.

Now the Greater Miami area is positioned to become an even greater force in Florida junior tennis in the coming years as these young players rise through the ranks of Ten and Under Tennis, USTA Jr. Team Tennis, middle school, high school, college varsity, and club (USTA Florida 'Tennis on Campus') team play.

"We now see players from QuickStart entering our novice Jr. Team Tennis League," McNichols said. "This is a natural 'feeder' that adds to our numbers and promotes tennis with a growing force. Both parents and kids are loving the program."

QuickStart Blended Lines to Feature On-court During Agassi-Sampras BNP Paribas Showdown

The USTA and event producers StarGames and MSG Sports announced today that, for the first time in history, 60-foot blended lines will be placed on a traditional 78-foot regulation court being used for a pro tennis match. The matches, featuring Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe and Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi, will take place at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28, 2011, during ESPN2's live broadcast of the BNP Paribas Showdown, the crown jewel in the "Tennis Night in America" celebration.

BNP_2011Blended lines are painted in a different, more subtle color than the traditional lines, enabling courts to be adapted for competitive play for younger children. These blended lines are a major component of the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart Tennis play format.

Prior to the four Hall-of-Famers taking the court on Monday, local kids from the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) will take to the 60-foot blended line court for a 10 and Under Tennis exhibition, using the QuickStart Tennis play format. The concept of 10 and Under Tennis scales the game down to size for its youngest participants, with slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, lighter and smaller racquets, and shorter courts that make the game fun, easy to learn and easy to play, ensuring that kids will return to tennis again and again.   

"For years, other sports like soccer and baseball have had kids playing on smaller fields with kid-size equipment," said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen.  "We're doing the same thing with tennis. To have players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, and Ivan Lendl competing on a court with blended lines is a huge step for the sport of tennis and a great way to showcase 10 and Under Tennis to the world." 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is part of Tennis Night in America, an integrated initiative which kicks off the 2011 tennis season at facilities across the country.  Building upon the success of last year's efforts, more than 675 tennis facilities across the U.S. will be taking part in registering youth in tennis programming at National Youth Registration events throughout March.

Starting at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3.com will stream live the match between McEnroe and Lendl. At 9 p.m. ESPN2 will televise the Sampras-Agassi match. ESPN's announcing team will include Chris Fowler, Patrick McEnroe and former Agassi coaches Darren Cahill and Brad Gilbert. ESPN International will distribute the matches to 45 million homes in 130 countries and territories.

Sarasota-Open-2011-webThe Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club & Resort to Host 2011 Sarasota Open

The 2011 Sarasota Open is again being hosted at The Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club & Resort on April 23-May 1, 2011, and remains the premiere men's USTA Pro Circuit events on the west coast of Florida. Players from all over the world will be coming to Sarasota to prepare for the 2011 French Open in Paris, which follows the Sarasota Open on the men's ATP schedule. 

This year's Sarasota Open nine-day main event will top off over five weeks of special events that lead up to the USTA professional men's tennis tournament:

March 25 --  Tennis & Art on the Bay @ Marina Jacks, Sarasota, 6-9 p.m., $200 tickets
Tennis and Art meet in the bay downtown Sarasota aboard The Sea Fair, one of the largest private yachts in the world (238 ft). Over $400 million dollars of art is coming to Sarasota to benefit the Sarasota Open Foundation and the Florida Winefest (Caring for Children) for this special event. For more information on the expo ship, please visit www.expoships.com  Tickets can be purchased at www.SarasotaOpen.org

April 8 -- Wild Card Tournament @ Bath and Racquet Club, Sarasota, FREE admission
Amateur men's Singles get a chance to win a spot in the qualifying round of the 2011 Sarasota Open. Entry fee $75 for players. Entries are due by 4/1/2011.

April 15 -- Tennis Under the Stars @ Palm Ave, Sarasota, 6-9 p.m., $30 tickets
Hottest street party in Sarasota! In 2010, downtown Sarasota was transformed into a tennis stadium and ice rink surrounded by Rolls Royce automobiles. The 2010 event was a huge success with over 500 in attendance. The 2011 event will be even bigger and better! Tickets can be purchased at www.SarasotaOpen.org

April 23 -- 2011 Sarasota Open  @ The Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club & Resort, Fla.
The Sarasota Open is the largest sporting event in the Sarasota area attracting over 30,000 patrons from around the world to our event. The 2010 winner, Kei Nishikori, is one of Japan's up-and-coming super stars. After his Sarasota win, Nishikori went on to play in the French Open and also secured a wildcard slot in this past years' Wimbledon where he played Rafael Nadal. Tickets to the 2011 Sarasota Open are available online at www.SarasotaOpen.org and range from $5 for Qualifying Round general admission tickets to $100 Finals Round box seats. For more ticket information, please call (941) 809-8996.

April 25 -- 2011 Player's Party @ Marina Towers, Penthouse 1, 6-9 p.m., $100 tickets
The Player's Party has become a tradition at every Sarasota Open. This is the place to mingle with current players and past players off the court in an exclusive atmosphere.  This years' host, Sarasota Open Foundation Board Member Jesse Biter, has offered up his luxurious penthouse overlooking the Sarasota Bay for an opportunity to support the participating charities and mingle with the sports stars. Last year's event was held at the Florida home of Congressman Buchanan. Marina Towers is located at 1233 N. Gulfstream Ave in downtown Sarasota. Tickets can be purchased at www.SarasotaOpen.org
Longboat Key Club & Resort is the area's only AAA Four-Diamond beachfront resort just off the coast of Sarasota. The resort offers 218 rooms and suites, featuring private balconies. Amenities include six restaurants, 45 holes of golf, USTA award-winning Tennis Gardens, Island House Spa, fitness center, full-service marina, year-round Kids Klub, miles of white-sand beach and conference facilities for groups up to 200. For more info go to www.longboatkeyclub.com





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