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Tampa Bay Tennis Receives USTA Florida 'Share the Love' Grant

September 15, 2010 08:40 AM
Melin Charles and students
Charles Melin and students
The Tampa Bay Area Tennis organization in St. Petersburg, Fla., has received a 'Share the Love' grant from USTA Florida to introduce QuickStart Tennis for 10-and-under children at the Willis. S. Johns Recreation Center and surrounding centers.

"The economic setback over the last two years has exhausted all funding in the city parks and recreation for tennis in our area," says teaching pro Charles Melin. "I feel the only way to develop strong longevity with children's programs is to make the number one goal fun. QuickStart is a perfect tool to make that happen. We are a lower- to middle-class community that desperately needs to provide our children something as positive as tennis. Drugs, alcohol and crime are very strong opponents in all communities."

Melin, who has a contract with the City of St. Petersburg to teach at Johns Recreation Center, says he grew up in an area where only the affluent individuals were able to play tennis, save for a special coach that offered the game to any comers.

"We had a very ambitious tennis coach at the community center that believed tennis is for everyone and can teach all children respect, honor and trust," Melin said. "I am living proof that it worked. Hopefully starting this QuickStart program will allow me, in a small way, to help some of the children in our community develop the lifelong love of tennis."

QuickStart Tennis is the new USTA-approved and ITF (International Tennis Federation)-approved format for teaching children age 10-and-under, featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes. To see a video of QuickStart Tennis in action go to: http://consumers.quickstarttennis.com/.

Melin is also offering QuickStart Tennis at Meadowlawn Middle School and the Brighton Bay Tennis Center.

USTA Florida's "Share the Love" campaign is a $500,000 initiative on top of the organization's regular annual giving to help fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times. Funding priorities for the USTA Florida 'Share the Love' initiative include QuickStart Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis (coordinator training, start-up, etc.), public facility funding (schools, parks, conversion to QuickStart courts, etc.), community tennis awareness (innovative pro-active start-ups, program expansion), school programs and senior tennis programs/projects.

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. For more information on QuickStart Tennis in Florida CLICK HERE. For more info on Tampa Bay Area Tennis go to www.tampabayareatennis.com.





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