2006 USTA Section of the Year: Texas
No one will ever claim that USTA Texas is the Little Section That Could. They’re the third largest of the 17 sections and enjoy a climate that’s mostly tennis-friendly all year.
That’s not to say the section faces no challenges. But lately their primary problem is managing their own success, easing the growing pains caused by their flourishing programs and membership. Those are good troubles to have, and they’re why USTA Texas is the winner of RSI’s 2006 USTA Section of the Year Award.
Section Executive Director Ken McAllister attributes much of their recent accomplishments to the USTA’s Tennis Service Representative initiative. “Our program with the TSRs has been the most significant thing that’s happened to us,” McAllister says. “Our reps get in touch with people in local communities and try to do more listening and assisting than anything else. We’ve been able to add to our junior tennis numbers, we’ve been able to help CTAs, participation in our Lonestar introductory league programs has jumped, and we’ve seen a 5 percent increase in league tennis.”
USTA Texas’s success last year is easy to measure: Membership surpassed 50,000 for the first time; high-school team tennis participation grew to nearly 40,000 players; and they increased the number of state junior tournaments by over 15 percent.
“From the leadership on down, they have a clear definition of what they’re called to do, and they do it,” says Virgil Christian, director of community development at the USTA’s national office.
“When I was a kid,” says McAllister, “if we wanted to go outside and play baseball, we could always find a place to play. That’s my dream for this sport, too — that if a kid gets turned on by tennis, there’s a place to go.”
USTA Texas’ tips for success
- Think long-term and provide room for growth. The new people your programs attract will need opportunities and places to play.
- Target youngsters — they’re the future of your section. Go to the schools, educate physical education teachers, provide lots of junior tournaments.
- Listen to your TSRs. When you help locally, you help the whole section.
See all articles by Chris Nicholson
About the Author
Chris Nicholson is a contributing editor of RSI magazine.