USA Tennis Florida -- USTA Section of the Year
By Mark Winters
Each of the 17 USTA sections strives to stand out. But being the best comes about through a combination of creativity, ingenuity, and originality, among other attributes.
“With us, it’s been a building process,” says USA Tennis Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. “We don’t want to be a good tennis association; we want to be a good non-profit organization.” And USA Tennis Florida has made novel and revolutionary strides, which has led them to RSI’s 2005 USTA Section of the Year Award.
“We relocated in Daytona Beach a few years ago, forming a partnership with the city that resulted in a 24-court tennis complex,” Booth says. “Our board of directors had too many people to make quick decisions, so they voted to go from 40 members to 22. We reduced our by-laws from 15 to five pages.”
Booth then traveled the state and discovered, “We don’t do a good a good job of giving the newspapers information about the tennis specific to their community.” The section runs a host of programs, leagues, and more, and getting the word out became a priority. So last spring the section created the new position of communications coordinator.
And in yet another innovative move, “We reduced our 19 districts to eight regions to make things more manageable,” says Section President Don Cleveland (above left, with Booth). “Also, we’ve made a concerted effort [to enhance tennis in] public parks and schools.”
All of this is good news for tennis players, and potential players, in Florida.
Florida’s tips for success
- Increase local support by hiring community tennis coordinators.
- Provide innovative grants to spur development of new programs and reinforce old programs.
- Have a board of directors that strives to be visionary and is not afraid to try new things.
See all articles by Mark Winters
About the Author
Mark Winters, who played college and professional tennis, is a former Junior Davis Cup team and college coach. He spent time as a USTA clinician nationally and in the Middle East. He has written about the game for more than 25 years, with his stories appearing in Tennis Week and Florida Tennis as well as the Los Angeles Times and a host of international publications.