2004 Community tennis association of the year: Pikes Peak CTA
This country is a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and interests. Finding a way to address that diversity, while bringing people into tennis, can sometimes be a challenge for a Community Tennis Association. But in the Colorado Springs, Colo., area, thousands of individuals and families are playing and enjoying tennis. And it’s that focus on community outreach and nurturing interest in the game, that has led us to name the Pikes Peak Community Tennis Association as RSI’s CTA of the Year.
Among the PPCTA’s efforts in 2004 was the second annual Community Health and Fitness Outreach Program, a six-week program focused on introducing at-risk and low-income youth to USA Team Tennis. According to Donna O’Steen-Mixon, executive director of the PPCTA, the program brought the sport to a group that would not normally have access to it. “We’re trying to reach those outside the mainstream to develop and grow tennis,” she says. The program was funded through a $30,000 grant from the National Recreation Foundation, which had helped the PPCTA create an NJTL chapter in 2003. Four hundred youngsters participated this summer. “I heard many kids say, ‘Wow, I can do this!’” says O’Steen-Mixon. “It felt so positive. The self-esteem and energy that I saw on court made me feel really good about what we were doing.”
Karen Brandner, founder and board member of the PPCTA and manager of operations at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, hailed the PPCTA’s work to support the new players both on and off the court by partnering with other community organizations to ensure that the participants have transportation to tennis facilities.
In late September, the PPCTA initiated its first-ever “Star Search,” minus the microphone, music and Ed McMahon. The program — funded by the Colorado Tennis Association with a $1,000 grant — focused on developing the tennis skills of committed players (ages 8 to 14) from diverse communities throughout the area. “The program provides valuable information that would take the player’s game to the next level,” says O’Steen-Mixon. “Each participant has a mentor. The mentors keep contact throughout the year with the person they’re tutoring.”
Those mentors were among the pool of 400 dedicated volunteers the PPCTA boasted in 2004, which also included the members of the organization’s board of directors. “The PPCTA has great leadership,” says Karen Ford, the USTA’s manager of Community Tennis Development. The board is made up of volunteers with experience in several areas, including law, media, and of course, tennis instruction and club management. It’s that leadership and the direction it has for the future that sets the PPCTA apart from other CTAs, Ford says.
And in the spirit of looking toward the future, a total of $1,800 in scholarships was awarded this year to the tennis pros of tomorrow. While all of the scholarships this year were presented to youths, players of all ages and backgrounds are eligible. Scholarships have funded lessons, USA Team Tennis participation, and even the purchase of tennis shoes.
The PPCTA has many other programs designed to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to get into and continue playing tennis. “We want to grow the game,” says Brandner. “I think it’s important to introduce the sport of tennis to everyone.”
PPCTA’s Tips for Success
- Before reinventing the wheel, look for answers to questions pertaining to your CTA by checking the resources available at the national, sectional or state levels. As a start, visit usta.com/communitytennis, then follow the links for your area.
- Research other community service organizations within your community. Form alliances to develop programs that meet the goals of several organizations.
- Provide your volunteers with meaningful, fun experiences. Learn the interests, skills, and strengths of volunteers and make them comfortable by providing informal training.
- Ensure that your organization provides a forum in which supporters and volunteers are publicly recognized for their contributions and work.
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.