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Florida Tennis Briefs: Winter Park USTA Starfish Award Finalist, More

June 29, 2011 02:06 PM
USTA Recognizes Winter Park, Fla., H.S. Tennis Coach as Award Finalist

starfishThe United States Tennis Association this week announced the nine national finalists for the 2011 USTA Starfish Award. Tennis coach Terri Cunningham from Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Fla., has been announced as a finalist for the award, which honors outstanding coaches that made a profound impact on young people's lives through the "No Cut" policy for their high school tennis team.

A No-Cut policy essentially means every student who wishes to play is welcomed as a member of the team. With more than 2,850 coaches nationwide implementing this initiative, some programs have more than 100 official high school tennis team members. The coaches of these teams serve as positive role models and make a difference by spending the extra time and effort to ensure that thousands of young players experience the fun of representing their high school tennis team.

Terri Cunningham started a No-Cut tennis team eight years ago. Cunningham generated excitement at the middle school and freshman campus, because the students knew they would have the opportunity to play for their school. This past season, her Winter Park High School tennis team consisted of 59 players.

Over the past seven years, Cunningham has led the girls' and boys' team to conference, district, and regional titles, as well as qualifying for the state finals. In addition, she was named Tennis Coach of the Year by the Metro Conference.

"My biggest contribution as a tennis coach is when I have players on my No-Cut team, as well as my varsity team, develop a true love for the game and continue to play," Cunningham said. "More rewarding are those that play club tennis either at school or at home, and those that continue to play recreationally for many years after leaving Winter Park High School."

Coaches such as Cunningham are key to the growth of the game says Barry Ford, director of education, advocacy and public affairs for the USTA.

"The USTA is proud to name Terri as a finalist for the Starfish Award, who has enriched the lives of her players through her No-Cut tennis program," Ford said. "Ensuring that her players are given an opportunity to be part of a team is a sign of Terri's devotion as a No-Cut coach. As a result, she has been selected as one of nine finalists chosen from a pool of over thousands of coaches."

The USTA will recognize the two national winners at the Community Tennis Development Workshop in New Orleans, La., held Jan. 13-15, 2012. The Starfish Award is in its seventh year of existence and has honored 12 winners since 2005.

To qualify as a Starfish Award winner coaches must have implemented the No-Cut program at a high school and be nominated by USTA Section Coordinators. Final winners are determined by a select panel of USTA committee members, staff, volunteers and career no-cut coaches.

All registered no-cut coaches have access to updates and tips from the No-Cut Coaches Advisory Team and an interactive coaches forum. Comprised of seasoned and successful no-cut high school coaches, the Advisory Team offers advice, guidance and resources to coaches who are challenged by the obstacles of working with such large teams. To register as a no-cut coach or learn more about the program, visit www.usta.com/no-cut.

Children's Inauguration for New Mayor, Tennis Planned for Jacksonville's Youngest Citizens

alvin brown and gore
Alvin Brown (left) and Al Gore
Even though they are not old enough to vote yet, the children of Jacksonville won't be left out of the excitement surrounding the inauguration of Jacksonville Mayor-Elect Alvin Brown. They have the chance to take part in a special inauguration planned just for them that will also include tennis and other sports and activities.

The Children's Inauguration will take place Thursday, June 30 from 1-4 p.m. in Hemming Plaza in downtown Jacksonville. The event is open to the public and is for children of all ages.

USTA Florida will have an interactive display to encourage tennis as a healthy and active lifestyle, featuring two 36-foot QuickStart Tennis courts. After the ceremony, children attending from summer camps and other activities in Jacksonville will have time to walk around the square and engage in various physical activities, including tennis.

"This is a great opportunity to put a racquet in the hands of many kids that have probably never played tennis before," says Amanda Becker, USTA Florida tennis program coordinator for the First Coast area. "We hope to get a couple hundred kids hitting on the courts throughout the afternoon, and hopefully some of them will decide to take up the sport and join in the fall programming that the City of Jacksonville and the Jax Youth Tennis Association will be offering at the public parks."

The mayor-elect's sons, Joshua and Jordan, will take part in a mock swearing-in and then Mayor-Elect Brown will speak about the importance of civic engagement and voting. The Honorable Virginia Norton, Circuit Court Judge, will participate in the historic event.

"This event is designed to get the children of Jacksonville interested in government and public affairs," said committee chair Robin Rukab. "The inauguration of Mayor-Elect Alvin Brown is a historic event in Jacksonville and we want to take this opportunity to engage kids so that when they do turn 18, they'll register to vote."

The event will also include three separate tours of City Hall, the Main Library and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA).

For more information on the Jax Youth Tennis Association's fall season 10 and Under Tennis program visit www.jaxyouthtennis.com.






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