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TOPS'L Tennis off to a QuickStart After USTA Florida 10-and-under Grant

November 5, 2010 09:14 AM
Tennis Director and USPTA District 1 President Joe D'Aleo
The TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Resort in Miramar Beach on the Florida Panhandle is the latest recipient of a "Share the Love" grant from USTA Florida for $1,000 of QuickStart Tennis equipment to teach the fun, engaging format to 10-and-under beginning players. The grant is through USTA Florida's "Share the Love" campaign, a $500,000 initiative on top of the organization's regular annual giving to promote 10-and-under tennis as well as a wide range of other community initiatives.

Director of Tennis Joe D'Aleo heads up the tennis program at the TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Resort, which annually receives recognition by the tennis industry as one of the top destinations in the U.S.

"We are a Top 50 Tennis Resort in the U.S. and also a local club, which gives us the great opportunity to grow the game not only locally but also with our tennis guests that visit us on vacation," D'Aleo said. "The QuickStart program has great potential in our area of the Panhandle to see growth in junior tennis that we have never seen before because most kids are not introduced to the game the proper way, and get discouraged that tennis is too hard."

QuickStart Tennis is designed for children age 10-and-under, older beginning players and senior tennis players, 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://10andundertennis.usta.com.

D'Aleo is the District 1 President of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), and became a believer in the program for 10-and-under beginners when he attended a QuickStart Tennis Workshop for teaching pros at the USPTA Florida Convention earlier this year.

"I saw the QuickStart program first hand it does not take long to make someone a believer in how it works," D'Aleo said. "I immediately started using the QuickStart balls in private lessons and in some of our junior clinics and the kids have a blast, they immediately saw improvement and the best part is that they had fun, which is what tennis should be all about, especially at the young age groups. The best part is that the parents got to witness how much better there child played with the correct ball, and how they hit more balls in their strike zone and in the court."

While he now employs various attributes of QuickStart Tennis, D'Aleo says the Share the Love grant will kick-off a full-scale QuickStart program at the TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Club in 2011, where 10-and-under children can then develop onto USTA Jr. Team Tennis league players.
"TOPS'L will be starting the QuickStart program full speed with all the proper nets, balls and equipment," D'Aleo said. "Being the USPTA District 1 president for the Panhandle, I have been campaigning to get other tennis professionals to start the program so we can form a QuickStart/Jr. Team Tennis league in our area and make it a lot of fun for the kids. I want to thank [USTA Florida Executive Director] Doug Booth in helping me achieve this by being my guest speaker at a recent USPTA district meeting. He really shed some light on the QuickStart program and how it can work and will grow the game, sharing statistics on the state of the game that was truly an eye-opener for all the tennis professionals at the meeting. I truly believe that if all certified teaching professionals have an open mind on how the QuickStart program can create new income for themselves and their facilities, we could see the biggest growth in the game that has ever happened before."

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 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.

"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. For more information on QuickStart Tennis in Florida, go to www.ustaflorida.com






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