Tennis Industry magazine

 

A Gathering of Champions

By Peter Francesconi

Once again, I felt fortunate to attend one of this industry’s best workshops for those actually delivering tennis at the grassroots level. I’m talking about the USTA’s Community Tennis Development Workshop, a yearly event that brings together those who are in the trenches, making tennis happen in communities throughout the U.S.

The 2008 CTDW was held Feb. 22 to 24 at the Flamingo Las Vegas. Nearly 600 community tennis leaders from around the country attended, from volunteers, to teaching pros, to district and section staff, and many more. The key thing, though, is that all of these attendees are passionate about tennis.

You’ve all heard talk about tennis participation on the rise. Well, it’s these folks-and the thousands like them who could not make it to Vegas for this CTDW-who should get the credit for actually making that growth happen. They are the true champions of this sport, and they are the people that all of us in this industry depend on.

As I’ve said for a number of years, the USTA’s CTDW is probably the best thing the USTA does to help tennis at the grassroots level. At the CTDW, the biggest problem I hear about is attendees unable to attend all the sessions they want to because there is just so much happening at one time.

This year, presentations covered a broad range: starting a CTA, sponsorship and marketing, advocacy, building partnerships, raising funds, dealing with volunteers, instruction in public parks, public relations, QuickStart Tennis, and much, much more. The sessions are led by USTA staff, volunteers, section folks, and other experts in their fields.

But beyond the presentations, simply spending time with other attendees is inspiring. In fact, to aid in networking, the USTA this year used new “nTAG” technology, which is an electronic nametag that can easily swap your contact info with those you meet. After the weekend, attendees received an email that showed the contacts they made at the event. (The nTAG also can do many other things, including instant polling.)

If you’ve never been to a CTDW, or haven’t been to one in the last few years, you need to go. The February 2009 event will be on Hilton Head Island, right after the PTR Symposium. Start making your plans.

Peter Francesconi

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About the Author

Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.

 

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