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USTA Florida President's Message: Can the Tennis Boom Return?

November 8, 2013 10:28 AM
By USTA Florida President, Volunteer, Bob Pfaender

Bob_and_Dawn_PfaenderAt the USTA Semi-Annual meeting in New York over labor day weekend, we had the privilege of being addressed by the legendary Billie Jean King. She is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) as well as the 40th anniversary of her classic Battle of The Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs. 

She will also be celebrating her 70th birthday this year as well. The USTA, as you know, has named the National Tennis Center in New York after her. That one tennis match, in 1973, triggered the largest boom in tennis that the sport has ever seen. Everybody wanted to take lessons and learn to play tennis. What so many people have discovered over these years though, is that it is not as easy as it may look. 

That is why it is so important to start to learn the game at a very young age with the proper age-appropriate equipment, nets, and court sizes.

The USTA calls this program 10 and Under Tennis. By having early success with the right-size racquet, and larger, softer balls, children can enjoy learning the sport -- and so can beginning adults!

Billie Jean's message, and that of the USTA as well, is that we need to do more to get new players, especially younger players, into the game. 

We have an aging population in tennis. We have tremendous programs to introduce players of all ages into the game. We have tremendous coaches and teaching professionals available to help train and teach the game of tennis in most communities, both at clubs and at city and county parks. 

So this is a call to arms in Florida! Talk your friends into signing-up and taking some lessons from your local USPTA or PTR tennis professional -- sign your children up for a junior tennis program after school at your local club or park -- go to our USTA Florida website (www.ustaflorida.com) to find a court, club, or coach in your area -- have your child join a junior tennis team in your community and have fun playing with their friends in a team match -- and call our office ((386) 671-8949) if you have questions about "How To" or "Where To" go to find more information on programs near you.

The pathway to learn and enjoy the game of tennis is there. From beginner programs to team events in juniors and adult leagues, then middle school and high school tennis, then NCAA or USTA Tennis on Campus (non-varsity club tennis) play, to adult local city leagues as well as USTA Leagues -- these opportunities are all around you. 

We of course have our traditional, sanctioned competitive tournaments for those that really get the bug and want to go up against the best in the state for rankings. But the majority of people today, especially the younger generation, need a specific time frame to schedule their activities. That is why we are offering more single-day 3-4 hour events and play opportunities throughout Florida. You can drop your child off at a certain time, and know exactly when to pick them up -- just like you do for a soccer or t-ball game. 

For those of us that have been involved and have enjoyed tennis for so long, we know the many advantages of playing the game. We know it is the sport of a lifetime once you get involved. Think about how you "Found Yourself in the Game!" Let's help as many people as we can Find Themselves in the Game. Let's have another boom in tennis in Florida.







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