Hitting a Winner Every Time
A longtime community tennis advocate says CTAs are not only good for tennis, but good for your business.
By Paula Hale
When it comes to tennis in this country, nothing beats what a Community Tennis Association has to offer. CTAs represent all that is wonderful about grassroots tennis. Primarily organized and run by tennis-passionate volunteers, these associations support and provide programs that move forward the mission of the USTA — to promote and develop the growth of tennis.
Look at it this way: CTAs are the nucleus for community tennis. Teaching pros, retailers, facilities and clubs, court builders, school coaches, park and rec departments and many more all have a stake in how successful tennis is in the community, and it’s the local CTA that connects all of these people and organizations to the programs, tournaments, leagues, workshops, grants and other events and resources that are helping to grow the sport.
In a world in which more and more we need to join together to get things done, CTAs have long been an agent for fostering partnerships that spread the sport of a lifetime throughout their cities and towns. One of the best examples of this is the USTA’s CTA of the year, the Brandon Tennis Association in Brandon, S.D.
Just 3-1/2 years old, the BTA has built up relationships that have made the sport flourish in a town of 8,000. With four courts in town badly in need of renovation, a group of tennis enthusiasts led by Becky Blue decided much more was needed. They formed a CTA, partnered with the city, private businesses, the USTA and others, and raised more than $200,000 for the project. Now, Brandon has a new eight-court facility complete with a welcome center and has adult and junior leagues, a no-cut policy for its school teams, and a thriving summer program.
“We not only had to advocate for the idea of these tennis courts, we had to advocate for the idea of tennis to the community,” says Becky, who is the president of the BTA. “Tennis builds relationships, and I know that tennis has helped Brandon be a better community.”
And it all came about because Becky and others passionate about the sport organized a CTA, one of nearly 1,200 in the U.S. They were strong advocates for all the wonderful things tennis can do for a community and for its adults and children. And their passion to provide tennis to their town brought huge rewards to Brandon.
The future of tennis is in attracting and retaining young players, and again, CTAs are a key element in that endeavor. The QuickStart Tennis format, designed specifically to teach tennis to youngsters ages 5 to 10, uses age-appropriate court size, nets, racquets, balls and scoring to make tennis a fun and successful sport to learn. And CTAs are at the forefront of promoting this format, making sure it filters into schools and public parks, and training parents, teachers, coaches and others on how to use the QST format with their kids.
Whether advocating for new or renovated courts or facilities, running the QST format for kids, working to attract new players, organizing leagues and clinics, helping a school with a no-cut program or a myriad of other tennis-related things, Community Tennis Associations are key players. They are focused on the local level and are the conduit to an array of opportunities that promote and develop the growth of tennis.
And think of this: An active CTA in your community helps your business. When you have a passionate and organized group of tennis players constantly advocating for tennis, getting courts built and resurfaced, running programs and leagues — your business benefits. As a retailer, you’re the one who will sell equipment and apparel and team uniforms. As a club or facility manager, you’re the one booking the court time. As a teaching pro, you’re the one giving the lessons and clinics. As a court builder, you’re the one getting the contract to resurface or build.
Doesn’t it make sense that no matter how you’re connected to the tennis business, you also get connected to your local CTA? If you don’t have a local CTA, wouldn’t it make sense to start one now?
Find out where all those tennis-passionate people are in your community. And you know they’re there. Tennis, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, is by far the fastest growing participation sport in the U.S., so you can be sure there are passionate players in your area.
Volunteer with your local CTA. Start a CTA yourself. Advocate for tennis. Each of us has the power to influence the growth of tennis — and your business — in your community. A CTA is a great way to do this.
See all articles by Paula Hale
About the Author
Paula Hale is currently the chair of the USTA's Community Tennis Association Committee and a vice president of the USTA Southern Section. A tournament and league player, she is a past CTA president and past president of USTA North Carolina.