Where Credit Is Due
Advanta teams up with WTT to bring tennis to thousands of children across the country.
Giving credit is their job. But Advanta, a credit-card provider in Spring House, Pa., has been getting quite a bit of credit of a different sort lately. Together with its partner, World Team Tennis, Advanta has been helping to introduce the game of tennis to thousands of youngsters in the U.S.
Since the inception of the “Ready, Set, Racquet” program in 2003, Advanta, one of the nation’s largest issuers of MasterCard credit cards to small businesses, has distributed more than 75,000 racquets to children ages 4 to 16 at WTT matches and special events, as well as at the now-defunct Advanta Championships, a former WTA Tour stop. The company has also donated racquets to groups like Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis & Education in Philadelphia, of which it is a principal sponsor.
“Tennis can be sustained throughout life and therefore yields lifelong health benefits,” says Advanta CEO Dennis Alter, an avid tennis player. “We are committed to introducing children to the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle, both on and off the court.”
“They are doing this for the good of the sport and these kids,” says Ilana Kloss, WTT commissioner and CEO.
At WTT events, children receive a racquet, racquet cover, and tennis ball. Each racquet frame and cover are branded with a team or event logo depending on where they receive the racquet, and the cover also bears the signature of WTT co-founder Billie Jean King. Young fans that visit more than one league match during the season can receive a racquet each time — all that Advanta asks is that they share the racquets with family, friends, and neighbors to help get them in the game.
“The reach actually goes beyond the matches and the people coming to the event,” says David Goodman, director of communications for Advanta, the presenting sponsor and official business credit card of WTT.
To further capture a child’s interest and excitement about the game, Advanta and WTT teamed up to create, “The Incredible Journey of the Wellington Tennis Twins,” a fictional story about Lara and Josh Wellington, siblings who dream of becoming pro tennis players. The twins work as ballkids for WTT matches and eventually are drafted to the league. “We feel that tennis is important, but so is education,” says Kloss. “It’s really about trying to give back to each of these communities, and to the kids in the communities.”
Last season, Advanta took its goodwill a step further, offering children at matches in St. Louis and Springfield, Mo., vouchers for a discounted tennis lesson or program at their local parks and recreation department.
“We continue to try different things and work with partners in each of the communities to try and get more kids in the game or get kids thinking about tennis as a fun way to get involved in sports,” says Kloss.
Adds Goodman, “Hopefully, we’ll spark these kids to get active, or to get more active. The goal is not only to play tennis, the goal is healthy kids.”
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.