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Stuart's Zumsteg Named USTA Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month

May 13, 2011 09:45 AM
Elaine-Zumsteg-webWhen Elaine Zumsteg made the transition to physical education teacher after instructing 1st grade for 11 years, she knew tennis needed to be a part of her curriculum -- even if introducing a new sport in the midst of budget cuts, in an area serving economically-challenged students, would be a challenge in itself.

The Stuart resident and self-starter applied for a number of grants and reached out to local organizations for help. Soon after, she had 675 children playing tennis, many for the first time.

"Most students at Warfield Elementary School (WES), located in western Martin County, are from low-income families, and many are non-English speakers," Zumsteg says. "I wanted to pass along my love of tennis to the children of WES, most of whom had never been exposed to the sport. I applied for, and received, a USTA Florida 'Share the Love' grant, which allowed me to teach all the children the fundamentals of the game. In addition, 20 3rd grade students were selected to participate in an after-school tennis club."

That club is coached by Zumsteg on a volunteer basis. She recruits local USTA members and lovers of the game to help pass tennis on to a new generation, and prepare them to play in Jr. Team Tennis leagues, and eventually on middle school or high school tennis teams. The club meets once a week, and her successful volunteer recruiting guarantees a low adult-to-child ratio. A partnership with the local Tri-county Women's Tennis Association resulted in the organization sponsoring the children by purchasing USTA junior memberships for all club members, supplying them with their own junior racquets and low-compression 10 and Under Tennis balls, and thereby allowing them to compete in Jr. Team Tennis leagues and USTA 10 and Under Tennis tournaments.

"I've also helped out at three local 10 and Under Tennis Jamborees for children ages 4-10," Zumsteg says of the events throughout Florida introducing children to the USTA 10 and Under Tennis format, which features child-appropriate racquets, nets, balls and court sizes, with an emphasis on fun rather than results. "The Jamborees were quite popular with approximately 60 children attending each. Every five minutes the children rotated into a new action-packed station focusing on tennis fundamentals."

Located northeast of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home to former No. 1s Venus and Serena Williams, Warfield Elementary's Indiantown is a rural, agricultural community with a largely Hispanic population.

"I'm not looking for the next Venus or Serena Williams, rather I am interested in fostering a love of the game and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle," Zumsteg said upon receiving the grant for 10 and Under Tennis equipment. "It is the sport student's can play their whole lives."

USTA Florida salutes Elaine Zumsteg as the May 2011 USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month for her tireless promotion of the game to young children, and her dedication to creating healthy lifestyles through sport.


Birthplace: Lynn, Mass.
Family Members: husband Albert and dog, Winnie; mom, Nancy, and two sisters and
a brother
Favorite Movie: A Fish Called Wanda
Favorite Food: pizza, sushi and fondue
Favorite Travel: Switzerland
Favorite Shot: Forehand

My earliest tennis memory was..."playing on the public court in Nahant, Mass., with my sister, Laurie. The court was on the ocean and often the gusty winds would blow the balls off the court. We spent more time arguing about who was going to retrieve the balls than actually playing!"

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Steffi Graf, Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."running marathons."

Best ever tennis memory..."was when I was playing tennis in Switzerland with my husband, Albert, and could clearly see the Matterhorn from the court."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I love working with children and I enjoy meeting and playing with some of the best people in Florida."






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