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Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Fla., Receives USTA Tennis Facelift Grant

December 9, 2010 04:17 PM
The Spruce Creek High School tennis courts in Port Orange, Fla., will get a facelift following a $2,000 grant from the USTA Florida "Share the Love" campaign for new nets, straps, balls, scorecards, court squeegees -- and even new signs concerning tennis social etiquette. USTA Florida's Share the Love campaign is a $500,000 initiative on top of the organization's regular annual giving to promote a wide range of community initiatives across the state.

"On behalf of the Spruce Creek High School boys and girls tennis teams past, present, and future, I'd like to thank all those involved with making this happen," said Spruce Creek Tennis Coach Todd Palmer. "We are thrilled to accept the Share the Love grant award."

Coach Palmer, in addition to heading the boys' and girls' teams, is a supporter of advancing his players' skills through play in the USTA Jr. Team Tennis league.

"All of our players are USTA members and regularly play USTA sanctioned tournaments," Palmer said. "We have embraced the Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) program to develop highly-competitive junior players. In the fall 2010 JTT season, all of our players competed. In addition, I have coached a JTT team ever since I can remember. Though this sometimes becomes chaotic, especially during the high school season, we realize the importance of JTT, and how our participation promotes both JTT and our program as well."

USTA Jr. Team Tennis brings kids together in teams to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles against other teams. It promotes social skills and important values by fostering a spirit of cooperation and unity, as well as individual self-growth. Also, it's a fun environment for kids in which they learn that succeeding is really more about how they play the game -- win or lose. The JTT league is for kids ages 5-18, and matches can be held anywhere from a local park or school to a commercial or private club. Teams are co-ed and play in the age groups U18, U16, U14, U12, U10 and U8, and in beginner, intermediate and advanced play levels. Winning teams in each USTA Section division advance to represent their Section at the USTA Jr. Team Tennis Nationals. For more info on Jr. Team Tennis go to www.ustaflorida.com.

Another element of Spruce Creek team development stressed by Palmer, where he looks to apply funding, is sportsmanship and promoting common social etiquette, such as the use of cell phones during matches.

"We try to set the bar whenever possible in regards to conduct and sportsmanship," Palmer said. "On all levels and at most venues of tennis, the use of cell phones and other electronic devices has become at best a nuisance, at worst a sportsmanship issue. Over the past two years we have made it clear before our matches begin that in order to use a cell phone, one must walk outside the complex. Other teams have begun to follow suit. We want to create signage [with the grant funding] at the entrance to our courts that states essentially that beyond this point, cell phones are turned off and stowed away."

Molly Zimmer is the USTA Florida tennis program coordinator for the Volusia County area.

"This grant is a wonderful show of support to our local community, players and coaches," Zimmer said. "Members of the Spruce Creek High School boys and girls tennis teams are great role models for the children entering tennis. When the players aren't in school or competing, they can often be found volunteering their time in the tennis community by working with children on court, and even coaching some USTA Jr. Team Tennis teams. The team has also taken on many fundraising events in an effort to raise money for the team."

USTA Florida annually directs 90% of member dollars back into the community to support tennis programs and projects throughout Florida. USTA Florida's 'Share the Love' grant program helps fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times. Funding priorities include 10-and-under Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis (coordinator training, start-up, etc.), public facility funding (schools, parks, conversion to permanent 10-and-under QuickStart play format courts, etc.), community tennis awareness (innovative pro-active start-ups, program expansion), school programs and senior tennis programs/projects.

"Together we can reach our mission, 'To promote and develop the game of tennis in Florida,'" said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director, Play Tennis Division, Andy McFarland. "It's with USTA membership dollars that we are able to offer program grants to communities like these."

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.





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