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Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville Receives USTA National Honors

August 3, 2011 12:21 PM
USTA Florida donated  7500 to the building and construction of the new Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville
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The Jonesville Tennis Center, which has rocketed to success in Gainesville, Fla., since its construction in 2009, has been announced as the winner of the national 2011 USTA Outstanding Facility Award by the United States Tennis Association.

The award recognizes facilities whose efforts make a positive statement about the vitality of tennis through adult and junior tennis programming, overall facility and court construction and layout, and contributions to the game of tennis.
In addition, the Jonesville Tennis Center received the 2011 Featured Facility Award, presented to the one facility (among those chosen to receive the USTA Outstanding Facility Award) that demonstrates exceptional excellence in facility design, court construction, amenities and related components, and promotes high standards in tennis facilities that enhance the enjoyment of tennis in their local area. The award also recognizes the facility as an early adopter of the 10 and Under Tennis format.

"We believe that the Jonesville Tennis Center is truly a unique and wonderful public facility, from its inception as a public-private partnership to its present use by players of all ages and abilities," said Christine Shurtleff, board member of the Gainesville-Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA), who waged a five-year campaign to get the center built. "There are even some folks who come out in the evening just to absorb the atmosphere in this quiet setting, delighted to see all the tennis activity, particularly the mix of players, including adults and juniors and family groups. There is a fantastic dynamism to the facility, very difficult to describe, but highly palpable."

The center was awarded in the Large Public Facilities category, for centers with 11 or more courts. The tennis center occupies part of a 100-acre parcel of land that was formerly a University of Florida agricultural research station. It was acquired by Alachua County for use as a multi-purpose park, now called Rotary Park at Jonesville, including soccer and other sporting fields. GACTA tennis advocates lobbied successfully to have the master plan include a pro shop and storage building. The final product includes 14 lighted clay hydrocourts (including one larger "show" court), one beach tennis court, and the pro shop and storage building. The facility received more than $7,500 in grant support from USTA Florida.

Director of Tennis David Porter played a large part in the project getting off the ground and its current success.

"David Porter contributed his personal funds in return for a 10-year management contract which does not include any county funds for operation or maintenance of the facility," said Anne Koterba, vice president of the Gainesville-Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA), who made the application for the award. "He charges very low fees for the public to play, it is doubtful that any other public claycourt facility charges less. All junior players are allowed to play free of charge whenever courts are available. And if a child has a passion for tennis, but not the financial means, Dave will always find a way to work it out. The center also has made its courts available for various charitable events and organized a truly wonderful parent-child tournament, with all proceeds donated to our local community tennis association for junior programs."

When Jonesville opened its doors in 2009 it immediately implemented junior programs for small children, utilizing the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart format of play, a program that was only starting to receive attention. This early adoption of 10 and Under Tennis and a strong Jr. Team Tennis program have had Jonesville boasting regular team and individual junior champions in Florida over the three years of its existence.

"JTC has embraced QuickStart Tennis from the very start of the 10 and Under Tennis movement, and the play format was, in fact, featured at the grand opening ceremony," Koterba said. "In addition to many USTA Adult League teams, JTC trains many junior players who travel all over Florida to participate in USTA junior tournaments. One of the juniors training at JTC, Harry Cacciatore, just won the Boys 10-and-under division of the USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles Championships in June, and his twin brother, Grey, won the backdraw."

For the past two years the center has also been active with local schools, hosting  "play days" for the hundreds of elementary school children participating in an after-school tennis programs coordinated by the GACTA. In the spring of 2011, when the GACTA began a middle school tennis pilot program, the Jonesville Tennis Center "adopted" three of the four participating schools and provided free courts for both practices and matches for the 90+ participants for eight weeks. Local high school teams also play a number of matches at the facility, and Florida High School Athletic Association district and regional events are held at the center annually.
The center has also organized several adaptive tennis sessions for emotionally- and physically-challenged youth, and hosted numerous charitable organizations' events such as a Summer Jamboree featuring a parent/child division (with proceeds going to the GACTA for junior programs), and events by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Alachua County, a Haiti Relief Tournament, and Caleb's Pitch (for children receiving care for life-threatening medical conditions). The center is also used as a community service for the Senior Games and Florida Sunshine Games competitions.

The 2011 USTA Outstanding Facility Award will be presented to Jonesville Tennis Center representatives during the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting in New York City in September, held during the US Open. For more info go to www.jonesvilletennis.com.






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