The True Grassroots
With the US Open now upon us, the focus in this sport is on the professional game. And whether you run a retail shop or facility, build courts, or teach tennis, that attention on pro tennis can clearly help your business, by generating interest in the sport and creating recreational players.
But it’s a two-way street — the recreational game also helps to build interest and fans for the pro game, too. And that’s why it’s so important to all segments in this industry that tennis is easily available in all communities, for people of all abilities and ages.
This is where Community Tennis Associations come into play, along with the tennis-passionate volunteers who help them become a reality. And for your business, a CTA is a good thing for you to get involved in.
Recently, I had the opportunity to witness this local passion for tennis first-hand when our small town in Connecticut started up a CTA. The first couple of meetings we had over the summer drew a lot of interested people, along with key staff from USTA New England offering assistance and advice. It seems that there are a lot of people in my area who not only play tennis, but who also feel strongly that this town, with a population of about 9,500, needs to offer the sport to both kids and adults.
We have five public courts in town (three at the high school and two at the middle school), and all five are in a state of disrepair. The new CTA’s first priority is to raise money to refurbish those five courts, then — hopefully — to build three additional new courts on town property near the high school.
The good news is there seems to be a lot of support for redoing the courts, not just among adult tennis players, but also among town and school officials. Importantly, the high school teams here are successful (unfortunately, the sorry state of the courts has forced them to play in a nearby town), and the high school runs a No-Cut tennis team program, which has about 50 students involved. With refurbished courts, the plan is to run tennis programs during and after school.
Key to starting the CTA was the town’s park and recreation director, who sent out mailings to tennis players and others and got the ball rolling. And other town officials also are in on it, too, which helps work through the bureaucracy. Importantly, we’ve been receiving help from USTA New England, especially from Community Tennis Director Dierdre McCormack, Marketing Director Celia Lucas and Community Coordinator Paul Gagliardi.
If you have a CTA in your area, take this opportunity to get involved. If you don’t have one, look into starting one. It will make this game grow, at every level.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.