tsts

Adult Leagues Adult Tournaments Junior Tournaments Jr. Team Tennis Learn more
.
 

Top 3 Jr. Tennis Growth Areas in Florida; Jax 'Sets in the City' Event

June 22, 2011 01:18 PM
Gainesville, Jacksonville, Palm Beach Counties Roadmap 10 and Under/JTT Tennis Growth in Florida
 
10-U-USTA-FL-mediawallAmidst the roll-out over the last two years of USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format, USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth has been fond of saying that the number of kids playing tennis age 10 and under will triple over the next five years. Now entering the second half of 2011, he has amended that statement to say the numbers with quadruple.
 
10 and Under Tennis has kids and parents flocking to the game since small children can rally immediately with smaller racquets, lower nets, smaller courts and low-bouncing balls. Everything is child-sized, so children can learn and advance to bigger racquets, court sizes and faster balls at their own pace.
 
"When you're watching two children play on a 36-foot court, if there are no adults standing near the court to give it perspective, it looks like two adults playing on a full-size court because everything is the right size," says USTA Florida Team Tennis Coordinator Michelle Willis.
 
While 10 and Under Tennis has seen rapid growth in Florida, three areas of the state -- Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Palm Beach County -- have experienced explosive growth, and all for different reasons.
 
Both Gainesville and Jacksonville reside in Region 2 of the USTA Florida eight-region map, and Region 2 provided the largest junior membership growth in early 2011, largely due to 10 and Under Tennis participation.
 
GAINESVILLE
 
Linda Green is the local league coordinator for Jr. Team Tennis in Gainesville, as well as the president of the Gainesville-area Community Tennis Association (GACTA). Through her job as league coordinator, and working with local clubs and pros through the GACTA, she oversees QuickStart and elementary school programs (10 and under) that flow into Jr. Team Tennis (10-18 year olds), pilot middle school tennis leagues and high school tennis.
 
"USTA Jr. Team Tennis started in Gainesville in the summer of 2006," Green says. "There have been three seasons per year since then. All of the local facilities, public and private, donate court space for matches. The GACTA obtained grant funding from USTA Florida and other agencies to offer programming for 10 and Under Tennis in Alachua County elementary after-school programs. In addition the GACTA developed a pilot middle school tennis league in the spring of 2011. Many of the 85 participants representing four middle schools are brand new players. The success of USTA Jr. Team Tennis in the Gainesville area is due to cooperation and hard work by passionate organizers, volunteers, team captains, facilities, parents and players."
 
Gainesville USTA community representative Anne Koterba has also worked towards getting QuickStart tennis in the schools, and is also working with the local county health department to yield hard data on how tennis is positively affecting the health of children.
 
"We actually now have QuickStart Tennis in all 23 of our public elementary schools' extended day enrichment programs, thanks to our new partner, Alachua County," says Koterba, who is also piloting adaptive tennis clinics for special-needs students out of the Jonesville Tennis Center. "The program coordinators are collecting data on the 400-500 participants, and the Alachua County health department will be analyzing the data, so hopefully by the end of the school year, we should have some good information on the impact of tennis on getting kids to become more active."
 
JACKSONVILLE
 
Jacksonville Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) coordinator Diana Gardner has long been a dynamo in the Jacksonville area, on a number of seasons pulling in the top participation numbers in the state. Named USTA Florida JTT Area League Coordinator of the Year in 2004 and 2006, she has also been posting large 10-and-under participation numbers since the launch of QuickStart Tennis.
 
In 2011 her efforts were joined by Jacksonville resident Celia Rehm, who partnered with the City of Jacksonville (JaxParks) for the city's first-ever public parks junior tennis league. Rehm, a USTA Florida volunteer and past president of the Florida Section, founded the Jacksonville Youth Tennis Association to oversee the Jr. Team Tennis league and 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format.
 
"We had a combined total of 95 kids register for the spring season at the three public parks, Southside Tennis, Boone Park and Burnett Park," Rehm said. "Because of the large turnout for the first season, we needed to recruit extra volunteers for the sites."
 
The Jacksonville area has also taken advantage of a number of grants for 10 and Under Tennis equipment through USTA Florida's "Share the Love" grant program, which began in 2010 and will distribute $500,000 in funding and equipment to schools, clubs, public parks and other organizations.
 
One "Share the Love" recipient was local teaching pro Randy Jenks, who teamed with another pro to start a QuickStart Grand Prix league for children 10 and under. The pint-sized competitors receive an introduction to friendly competition on the child-sized QuickStart 36-foot and 60-foot courts.
 
PALM BEACH COUNTY
 
In early 2011 the Palm Beach County league for 10 and Under Tennis boasted 13 facilities and approximately 175 players. Free youth tennis events in the areas of West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach attracted kids to the courts early in the year, and the efforts of Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) Local League Coordinator Henry Guignet have kept kids coming back to compete in team league play.
 
"Kidz Day at the ITC" held during the Delray Beach ATP event was one event popular with kids, and the event served as a USTA Florida Section tournament stop for the JTT league.
 
"The numbers speak for themselves pretty much," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Palm Beach County area Janet Sprague. "We went from 0 to 133 kids in two seasons. Last year alone we served over 300 in the 10 and Under and 8 and Under divisions of JTT. The partnership with the clubs has been unbelievably supportive with the format that we have established for the 10 and Under Tennis league program in Palm Beach County."
 
The Palm Beach County recipe for success includes free kick-off events before the season, six weeks of lessons and in-house match play at the club of the parents'/players' choice, and an end-of-season event that includes play and a party and awards ceremony.
 
"The on-court Quickstart play format for kids age 10 and under is a big win for the parents and players, and the off-court (league structure) format is a big win for the local pros and facilities," Sprague says.
 
The Village of Wellington, located west of I-95 in the Palm Beaches area, is seen as such a growth area for junior tennis that it has received a USTA Tennis Market Initiative (TMI) grant for $100,000 to develop 10 and Under Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis in the community and schools.
 
"Palm Beach County has the largest Jr. Team Tennis numbers in Florida," says USTA Florida Team Tennis Michelle Willis. "The Treasure Coast area's 10 and Under Tennis leagues have exploded this year. Jacksonville takes a close second in the 10 and Under Tennis league participation. With 10 and Under Tennis we are seeing tremendous growth in league play for that age group."
 
For more information on 10 and Under Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis, go to www.ustaflorida.com.
 
 
"Sets in the City" Tennis for Jacksonville Young Professionals Fundraiser in October
 
Young professionals who enjoy a social tennis experience will have a chance to play at and raise money for the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville when USTA Florida and partners host "Sets in the City" on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011.
 
The event from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the MaliVai Washington Youth Center on Saturday, Oct. 8, will be preceded by a player's social on Friday, Oct. 7, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the restaurant Whiskey River in the St. John Town Center. Players will receive two free drink tickets and enjoy complimentary appetizers.
 
"We are targeting young professionals age 21-40 of any tennis level who enjoy fun social gatherings that raise money for a good cause," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Jacksonville area Amanda Becker. "All levels of players are welcome, and if players don't have a racquet we will provide one. This is a chance to brush up on your tennis skills and meet other young professionals that love the sport."
 
The Saturday event will feature a tennis clinic and round robin play, with a break for lunch provided by TacoLu Baja Mexicana.
 
Registrations accepted for the event will be limited, and will be available online beginning July 15 at www.malwashington.com. The fee for early registration (before Sept. 30) is $40, and $45 after Sept. 30. The social-only registration is $25 (no tennis, but entry to player social at Whiskey River and TacoLu lunch on Saturday).
 
All proceeds from the event will benefit the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, whose mission is to develop champions in classrooms, on tennis courts and throughout communities via after-school programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
 
Event sponsors include USTA Florida, The NETworkers Young Professionals Group of Jacksonville, the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, and restaurants Whiskey River and TacoLu Baja Mexicana.
 
The MaliVai Washington Youth Center is located at Emmett Reed Park on the corner of 6th and Payne, at 1096 West 6th Street, Jacksonville, Fla., 32209.
 
For more information contact Amanda Becker of USTA Florida at becker@florida.usta.com, or Erika White of the MWKF at Erika@malwashington.com.
 
 

Back

 

 

 

Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share
 

tsts

tsts

 
AAA_Right_Rail
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Close