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Florida Tennis Briefs: Morgenstern Answers Obama Call; No-cut Tennis

April 12, 2013 11:05 AM

Morgenstern Answers Obama Call, Helping Veterans, Disabled, Kids with Tennis

 
morgenstern-webWhen First Lady Michelle Obama put out the call for Americans to support the members of our armed forces and their families, U.S. military veteran Mark Morgenstern answered by getting children, then wheelchair players, then challenged children in after-school programs on the tennis court -- for free.
 
"When the First Lady wanted all of us to do what we could for our armed forces and their families, I took up this cause," Morgenstern said. "I went to the Frank Veltri Tennis Center [in Plantation, Fla.] and asked if it was possible to invite all the children of armed forces personnel who were deployed or on active duty, living in the City of Plantation, to attend our summer and winter tennis camps without any charges. They all said yes!"
 
What he thought would be the hard part turned out to be easy -- compared to then finding the military children and families to invite to the camps.
 
"For the next month I received an education on dealing with government and our military," he said. "The bottom line -- we are still working in cooperation with the U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Army OneSource and the U.S. Army Garrison. The military children are having a wonderful time playing tennis, it's a success."
 
But he didn't stop there. Morgenstern has always had a special place in his heart for disabled veterans and children, and wheelchair tennis had always piqued his curiosity.
 
"While working with the USTA I came across a website on wheelchair tennis," he said. "The National Wheelchair Sports Fund is located in [nearby] Boynton Beach, and the Frank Veltri Tennis Center has 28 claycourts, so I thought, 'Why not invite Boynton Beach to come out and play in Plantation, and bring wheelchair tennis to Broward County?'"
 
Again, Morgenstern thought he had cleared the most difficult hurdle in organizing and bringing together the two entities and planning the clinics. But when the time came for the clinics to introduce disabled players to tennis, there was one additional hurdle. After advertising the clinics at rehab facilities and hospitals and in the newspapers, still -- no one showed up.
 
It was a lesson for the military veteran in the difficulties of trying new sports for the disabled or physically challenged.
 
"Why did not one show up? The answer is simple. If you are disabled of in a wheelchair, where can you go to try an active sport?" Morgenstern said. "If you are able-bodied, you go to a sport venue, rent the proper equipment, try the sport and see if you like it. If you are in a wheelchair where do you find this needed equipment?"
 
Reaching out to USTA Florida, Morgenstern received $17,000 -- a combined $11,000 from USTA Florida and $6,000 from the USTA Florida Section Foundation --  in grant funding for sports wheelchairs for adults and youth, and 10 and Under Tennis equipment so players could be introduced to the game using the right-sized racquets, lower-compression balls and court sizes adjusted to age and ability. He secured additional funding from the national USTA Wheelchair Division, and partnered with the Frank Veltri Tennis Center to allow wheelchair players to use the equipment and play tennis at no charge.
 
This summer the Plantation resident plans to work with the local school system to offer tennis to challenged students -- again at no charge.
 
"I am working with the Broward County school system to open our programs to all the children with ESE and any handicaps to enjoy tennis," he says. "The Broward school system is excited to see these programs in action."
 
Seeing children smile and adults quickly progress, much to their surprise, is what keeps Morgenstern sharing the "sport of a lifetime" with new audiences.
 
"I like to volunteer in tennis because when working with children, to see their smiles and giggles," he says. "To see people who had no idea how good they are blossom and enjoy this great sport. To meet people from all over the world who come together to enjoy sports, any age or gender, it does not matter -- we all speak the same language, tennis!"
 
USTA Florida thanks Mark Morgenstern as the March 2013 Volunteer of the Month for his service to U.S. veterans, their families, and introducing new generations of players to the game of tennis.
 
ABOUT MARK
Birthplace: Bronx, New York
Family Members: wife Marge, sons Brett (wife Teresa and children Emma and Jared), Adam (wife Michele and children Ronnie and Gunnar), Eric (wife Marsha and son Zachary), and sister Stephanie (husband Joel)
Favorite Movie: The Great Escape
Favorite Food: "Baked steak and/or brisket, sliced thin!"
Favorite Travel: The Catskill Mountains
Favorite Shot: backhand down the line
 
My earliest tennis memory was..."going to Poe Park in the Bronx, age 11 or 12 with a Tad Davis wooden racquet and hitting the white ball over an iron net on a cement court."
 
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Andre [Agassi], Steffi [Graf] and John [McEnroe], with my mother as my partner."
 
When I am not playing tennis I am..."a semi-retired vice president of my condo complex, 47 townhouse buildings, 378 units. I'm a member of the Broward County Veterans Council and work at keeping my wife of 49 years as happy as I can."
 
My best-ever tennis memory is..."winning a doubles tennis event over better players than our team, and giving the award to my younger player to be able to show his father how good he had become, and seeing him smile."
 
 

USTA Partners with High School Assoc. to Promote No-cut Tennis

 
usta_find_yourself_tennis_specialThe United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that it is partnering with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) -- the national leadership organization for high school athletic and performing arts programs -- to support and promote the "no-cut" policy which ensures that every student who wishes to play is welcomed as a member of the team.
 
The USTA and NFHS have aligned efforts to recruit and recognize coaches who commit to these inclusive efforts, which can have a positive impact on the students who participate.
 
The goal of this partnership is to attract new supporters of the no-cut policy through the involvement of the 51 NFHS member state associations, which include more than 19,000 high schools and almost 7.7 million participants in high school sports. With the resources and network of the NFHS, the USTA hopes to achieve a greater penetration of no-cut programs nationwide by extending its reach to high school coaches and administrators.
 
"We are honored to join efforts with the NFHS," USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis Kurt Kamperman. "Ensuring students are given an opportunity to be part of a team will make a lasting impact on the lives of our youth, as well as on the sport of tennis."
 
Bob Gardner is executive director of the NFHS.
 
"Philosophically, the 'no-cut' concept fits our mission of involving as many young people as possible in high school sports and performing arts programs," Gardner said. "We are pleased to assist the USTA in encouraging more coaches and administrators to consider implementing a no-cut program in their schools."
 
Since its inception in 2006, the USTA has registered over 3,600 coaches who implement the no-cut initiative, which has positively affected more than 130,000 high school students. Through this partnership, the two organizations will promote the initiative through their respective online and educational resources. The USTA will track and register the no-cut interscholastic tennis programs utilizing its registration system.
 
To register as a no-cut coach or learn more about the program, visit www.usta.com/no-cut.
 
 
 
 

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