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USTA Florida Tennis Briefs: President's Message, Orlando QuickStart, Longwood Classic

December 1, 2010 10:26 AM
USTA Florida Dec. 2010 President's Message: "This Is It For Me...Thank You!"

By Donn Davis, USTA Florida President

Donn Davis smallWe're well into "The Transition" to a new administration and volunteer leadership at USTA Florida. It started in August with the new Councils and Committees Meeting to develop their budgets for 2011. The new Board takes office at our 61st Annual Meeting on Dec. 4th. My good friend, Dan Casey, becomes the president of USTA Florida and will work with senior staff and the new Board to set an aggressive agenda for the association. 

Lucy Garvin, the president of the USTA -- we call them "National" -- created a theme for her two-year term: "Teamwork -- One Team, One Goal." Well we're no different at USTA Florida. When "National" folks visit us at our USTA Florida Semi-Annual and Annual Meetings, they always comment that unlike some other USTA Sections, it's hard to tell our staff members from our volunteers in Florida. We're a team -- a very good one and that's been the key to our success!

I'd like to start by saying thank you to our incredibly hard-working staff in Daytona Beach! We have just under 30 staff members covering the areas of Community Tennis, Marketing/Membership/Communications, Competitive Tennis (tournament play), Leagues, and Resources. As part of our Community Tennis group, we have nine of the most hard-working tennis program coordinators (TPCs) disbursed around the state to take our programs and initiatives to the grassroots. Boy, do they get the job done! Putting "feet on the street" -- that is, having staff in the field -- is one of the best moves USTA Florida has ever made! 

I'd like to say "Thank You" to our volunteer leadership, and I'd like to start with our seven-member Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is the core of our volunteer leadership, made up of the president, president elect, two vice presidents, secretary, treasurer, and USTA section delegate. This group, along with senior staff, is constantly reviewing the progress of USTA Florida and analyzing our strategic direction to keep the association moving forward.

The Executive Committee is joined by 12 directors-at-large to make up our 19-member Board of Directors. Several of our directors serve as chairpersons of our various councils or committees, like the Bylaws & Governance Committee, Leagues Tennis Council, USTA Florida Section Foundation, Recreational Tennis Council, Community Tennis Council, Community Representatives Committee, Volunteer Tennis Council, USPTA Liaison, and the Diversity Committee. 

Now I'd like to say a special "Thank You" to our staff leader -- our USTA Florida Executive Director, Doug Booth. As I'm sure you can imagine, Doug, as the leader on the staff side of our association, and I, as the leader on the volunteer side of our association, work extremely close together on almost all association business. Over the past two years, we've gotten to know one another very well and have become very good friends.

We even spent a long weekend together this past spring along with Doug's son, Wade, pursuing another one of our passions, fly fishing for trout in the Pennsylvania mountain streams. What I've learned about Doug is that he's one of the most passionate -- about Florida tennis -- and compassionate -- about those people around and close to him -- men I've ever met. Thanks, Doug, and I look forward to continuing my friendship with you for many years to come!

And I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my family for allowing me to spend countless hours on behalf of USTA Florida! Our son, Jeff, and our daughter, Julie, have made us empty nesters during this term, but have been supportive of my volunteer work for USTA Florida over the past 10 years. To my wife, Barbara, "Thank You" for understanding and supporting me on all those weekend meetings, both for USTA Florida and the USTA, and many, many weeknight conference calls, e-mails, and report-writing sessions. 

And finally, THANK YOU to you, our 50,000-strong Florida USTA members, for without you, none of what we've done these past two years would have been necessary or possible! It's been an honor to serve USTA Florida as president and I look forward to many more years of service, initially as past president and USTA section delegate, and then with whatever needs to be done! Now let's get out there and hit some balls!

QuickStart Facelift for Orlando's Lake Cane, Fort Gatlin Tennis Centers

Orlando's Lake Cane and Fort Gatlin tennis centers will receive a "QuickStart Tennis Programs Facelift" upon the granting of $2,400 to MG Tennis, Inc., which oversees the two facilities. 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 a wide range of community tennis initiatives during difficult economic times for Florida communities and tennis facilities.

The majority of the award is for 10-and-under QuickStart play format equipment, with a subsequent amount for marketing and advertising to grow the programs at the Lake Cane and Fort Gatlin facilities.

"MG Tennis, Inc., is thrilled to receive the USTA Florida Share the Love grant for Quickstart Tennis equipment and marketing," said Susie Rahimitabar, the Lake Cane director of junior recreational programs, and the Fun & Sun Tennis Camp director. "Our president, Marcelo Gouts, and staff strongly believe in the QuickStart format for players ages 10 and under, and also see great benefits for the modified equipment for players of all ages. The equipment has become very popular with our instructors and gets a lot of use in our programs and from the QuickStart Jr. Team Tennis leagues that play at our facilities on the weekends." 

The 10-and-under QuickStart Tennis play format is designed for 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 the 10-and-under QuickStart Tennis play format in action go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com.

"With the new equipment and marketing money, hundreds more young players will discover how much fun tennis can be by learning to play quickly," Rahimitabar said. "We also hope more will keep playing once they learn as they'll be able to achieve success and therefore enjoy the sport for a lifetime."

USTA Florida annually directs 90% of member dollars back into the community to support tennis programs and projects throughout Florida. Funding priorities for the Share the Love initiative include the 10-and-under QuickStart Tennis play format 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.

For more information on junior tennis programs at the Lake Cane and Fort Gatlin tennis centers, go to www.mgtennis.com.

Longwood Classic Returns in December; Watch for Vemic, Stump

by Noel Charette, TennisLife-Florida magazine Region 5 (Manatee & Sarasota) columnist

region 5-Dusan Vemic
Dusan Vemic
region 5-Tanner Stump
Tanner Stump
The Longwood Athletic Club of Sarasota will host the 3rd Annual Longwood Classic to promote the Next Generation Academy and display top-notch world-class professional tennis on Dec. 18-20, 2010.
Last year's event featured doubles champion Dusan Vemic, who is currently ranked No. 60 in the world. He not only has won an ATP event in Turkey this year, but playing with Ivo Karlovic made it to the semifinals at the 2010 Australian Open. In addition to performing at the highest level of play, Dusan also demonstrated great personality during both the doubles and pro-am event. 

Watching a tennis player of Dusan's level is incredibly entertaining. Not only can he do things with a ball that are out of this world, his charm and character offered great entertainment for his spectators that had an opportunity to watch him from only five feet away. He has also played a few tournaments with superstar Novak Djokovic.  
Longwood Athletic Club's Next Generation Tennis Academy is also on display during the event.
Not only are many of its older players in the draw but several play in the pro-am event as well. Director of Tennis Travis Eckert and his staff at the NGTA "believe that a coach/academy must first encourage virtue and a good moral base before an athlete can truly get the most out of themselves. Players must first respect themselves and all others to be able to fully utilize their talents." 
Nowhere is this philosophy more revealed then by the young man Tanner Stump.

Tanner is a product of the NGTA and currently plays at Mississippi State. Not only is he a terrific tennis player but he is the type of young man any academy would be proud to call their own.
His coach at MSU said of Tanner, "He has come a long way in two years and has done a great job leading the team.  He's the kind of player every coach wants on his team."

I personally had the privilege of playing with Tanner in the pro-am event and had a wonderful time. He was funny, respectful and informative. He is the type of man that not only the Academy should be proud of but he is a perfect reflection of his parents as well. Tanner demonstrates how a family and a tennis academy can succeed when working well together. Go Bulldogs!






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