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HCTA to Launch Free Inner-city Tennis in Tampa Through USTA Grant

October 1, 2010 01:09 PM
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QuickStart-Mal Kids
Three years ago the Hillsborough County Tennis Association (HCTA) did not exist. Three years later, it is an invaluable community tennis association driving adult and junior participation, charity events and tennis programs throughout the Tampa area.

Next up for the HCTA: free tennis for Tampa's inner-city children through a grant from USTA Florida's 'Share the Love' initiative, a grant of more than $7,000 for QuickStart Tennis equipment for children, training for instructors, and scholarships as the program will be offered free for children.

"The HCTA members and its board greatly appreciate USTA Florida for awarding us the Share the Love grant," said HCTA President Marisol Casablanca. "This grant will help us introduce tennis to children not familiar with the sport, and also assist school-based tennis programs with limited resources."
The new program, to be named the HCTA Inner City Youth Tennis Program, will begin in January 2011 and utilize the USTA's new QuickStart Tennis format. QuickStart Tennis is designed for children age 10-and-under or older beginning players, 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, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes. To see a video of QuickStart Tennis in action go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com.

The HCTA Inner City Youth Tennis Program will feature six-week sessions, two-week summer camps, "rookie" tournaments to ease children into fun, competitive play, and eventually introducing children into the beginner, intermediate or advanced levels of USTA Jr. Team Tennis leagues.

"The program design will utilize the USTA Jr. Team Tennis league, with a strong focus on the QuickStart format," Casablanca added. "This program addresses USTA Florida's community partnership investment focus, as the HCTA Inner City Youth Tennis Program develops community and school partnerships to increase participation, support programming and foster diversity."

The program will work with existing HCTA partners, including The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Target Tennis Group, Tennis 4 Everyone, and Sligh Middle School, and is projected to serve 460 children in predominantly economically-disadvantage communities.

USTA Florida's "Share the Love" campaign is a $500,000 initiative on top of the organization's regular annual giving to help fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times. Funding priorities for the USTA Florida 'Share the Love' initiative include QuickStart Tennis and USTA Jr. Team Tennis (coordinator training, start-up, etc.), public facility funding (schools, parks, conversion to QuickStart courts, etc.), community tennis awareness (innovative pro-active start-ups, program expansion), school programs and senior tennis programs/projects.
"We applaud HCTA's efforts in bringing tennis to under-served populations in Hillsborough County," said USTA Florida Director of Community Tennis Linda Curtis. "They have done an amazing job of building the partnerships that will provide the infrastructure for continued tennis programming in the future. As we have seen time and time again, tennis can give certainly make a difference in the lives of the children, as well as their families and the community at large."
Share the Love grant applications are still being accepted by USTA Florida at www.USTASharetheLove.com, or questions can be e-mailed to grants@florida.usta.com. For more information on QuickStart Tennis in Florida, go to www.ustaflorida.com.





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