A Local Tie
The Davis Cup Cares Initiative, designed to promote tennis at the local level, can be a blueprint for success with smaller events, too.
In early April, when the US Davis Cup team was wrapping up a hard-fought victory over Chile in the World Group quarterfinals, most of the action was happening on the grass court at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. But behind the scenes, there was excitement, too, thanks to the Davis Cup Cares Initiative.
The Cares Initiative is designed to leave a lasting impression of the Davis Cup in a community where a tie is held. William Kellogg, the current volunteer chair of the US Davis Cup committee, says there are four objectives: 1) Maximize the impact of community activities; 2) Leave a legacy that stimulates tennis growth; 3) Generate positive exposure for Davis Cup; and 4) Include multicultural communities in the activities and growth initiatives.
During this year’s first Davis Cup home tie in Kellogg’s backyard, La Jolla, Calif., the activities were many and varied. The initiative raised more than $20,000 for Youth Tennis San Diego for the purpose of adding about 20 new after-school tennis sites around San Diego County to their existing, highly successful program. Additionally, a community clinic was held at the Barnes Center for more than 800 kids, which featured Mike and Bob Bryan, and father Wayne.
Among the other efforts were: free tickets to matches for select clinic participants, using local youngsters as ball kids, an advanced clinic for tournament-level players, and a Davis Cup hitting wall donated for a selected site in the community.
The Davis Cup committee and staff works with other groups, such as Community Outreach, Community Tennis Development, and Fed Cup, as well as local and section resources. “In both locations, the key people involved in organizing the clinics made a terrific contribution by finding and organizing an army of volunteers to support the tie itself,” says Kellogg. “This drew adults, as well as kids, into the fray.”
Davis Cup and Fed Cup have done community events for years, including clinics, assemblies, high performance camps, and more. The USTA Pro Circuit committee endorses a number of community involvement days. But this blueprint is also something local tennis leaders can copy for themselves to create enthusiasm for community-based tennis. And, for local pros, facilities, and shops, generating this type of interest in tennis will also generate customers and business.
USTA Southern California Section Executive Director Henry Talbert says there are plenty of tennis events where CTAs, schools, clubs and parks can capture this same enthusiasm, for instance, at high school and college matches, World TeamTennis pro matches, section tournaments and league events, and generally anywhere tennis spectators gather.
“The [USTA] section staff can broker something between the event and the individual groups and CTAs,” says Talbert, “but the organizations have to have responsible people show up and be eager about tennis.”
Thinking about what you might plan? Your USTA section may have resources to help you, from grants to Tennis Block Party Kits to a volunteer network. Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Pick a community tennis event to partner with.
- Conduct an organizational meeting to discuss like goals, such as increased attendance at the event and/or fundraising for a new program or project.
- Contact your USTA section staff or volunteer liaison for Community Development, or local CTA.
- Think about a volunteer meeting and develop subcommittees and job descriptions as needed.
- Think of who outside your tennis circle (multicultural groups, Girl Scouts, etc.) might want to get involved.
- Is there a local celebrity who plays tennis that you can invite?
At the Mission Hills Davis Cup tie, “The kids made out like bandits and had a wonderful time,” says Tom Fey, the director of tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “There were all levels of ability from all different walks of life. It was like a party, a whole different tennis atmosphere.”
“I’m excited and encouraged with the experience we’ve had this year and with the growing number of USTA entities that are supporting and contributing to the Cares Initiative,” says Larry Dillon of New York, the Cares Initiative chairperson.
Whether it’s a Davis Cup tie or a local high school match, there are plenty of things you can do to capture, and expand upon, the interest and enthusiasm for tennis in your community.
We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.
See all articles by Scott Hanover
About the Author
Scott Hanover is the general manager of Clayview Country Club, a swim, tennis, and fitness facility in Kansas City, Mo. As a volunteer, he serves as the national chairperson of the USTA Tennis in the Parks committee.