USTA Section of the Year: USTA Southern
The USTA Southern Section is big — with 181,000 members in nine states, it is more than 20 percent of the total USTA membership. And it does things in a big way, such as Southern’s approach to 10-and-under tennis.
“Southern is our leader in under-10 competition and has sanctioned far more 10U events than any other section,” says Kirk Anderson, USTA director of Recreational Coaches and Programs.
The section, adds its executive director, John Callen, has “gotten ahead of the curve” with this age group, moving quickly to push 10U programs and tourneys. Southern also earmarked funds to help communities line and build shorter courts. “Hopefully, we’ll explode numbers on age 10 and under and take what’s good and make it even better,” says Callen.
The 10U effort is just one reason why the section is so successful. The nearly 300 volunteers, combined with staff, help to run tournaments, leagues, school programs and much more. For all of this, Southern is RSI’s 2010 USTA Section of the Year, the second time Southern has won our award (2003).
Leagues of every type are big in Southern, and the Tennis on Campus program has seen a growth spurt. The section also is home to some of the largest facilities in the U.S., so national and sectional tournaments abound. Also in 2010, the section gained a US Open Series pro event, the Atlanta Tennis Championships.
“Our section, state and community volunteers and staff are dedicated and passionate,” says Rex Maynard, the section’s president. “I couldn’t be happier with how Southern has helped grow the game in the U.S. We’ve done it together, following my slogan, ‘Work hard … grow tennis … have fun … finish strong!’”
Tips for success
- It takes great volunteers and staff at the section, state and community
- Emphasize a strong commitment to junior tennis, along with junior tournaments and league play. It all will help increase the number of players.
- Have an abundance of adult leagues and tournaments, to keep players engaged and excited about the game.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.