Your Serve: Terms of Office
The USTA’s immediate past president believes it is time for a three-year term for the organization’s leadership.
By Lucy S. Garvin
My many years as a U.S. Tennis Association volunteer culminated in 2009 when I became President, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the USTA. I look back on those two years and feel both gratified and extremely proud that I was able to serve this organization, and most importantly, our sport of tennis. I believe we accomplished a great deal during my administration and I am very pleased with the progress we made during those years.
I have been asked many times what the USTA could do to strengthen its structure and thereby improve tennis. Now that I have completed my tenure, I feel comfortable in expressing my personal opinion regarding the terms of our leadership.
I am convinced the USTA would be an even stronger organization if we change to a three-year term. At the National level, the USTA President, its Board of Directors and our volunteer committees would better serve tennis by providing the consistency, continuity and credibility that a three-year term would accomplish.
The idea of increasing the term is not new, it has frequently been debated — and I have not always supported my current viewpoint. I realize this could cause some short-term disruption and that there are those who are concerned it would take "too long to move up” in the organization. Hopefully that is not the reason we serve and that there are not too many volunteers who are concerned about this. We are all aware that recruiting volunteers is more of a challenge in today’s environment and this would help to ease the constant turnover on committees, etc. After serving at many levels under the current system, I believe it makes sense to increase the length of the term for the USTA volunteer leadership.
Currently the new President hits the ground running in January, and as prepared as one might think they may be after spending two years as First Vice President, you simply cannot begin your duties until you actually take office as the President. Then, after spending the first year moving initiatives forward, the President is quickly on the downside of his or her term and you spend much of your second year preparing for the transition to new leadership.
With a three-year term, the organization would provide continuity with programs and initiatives, an area where both volunteers and staff have expressed concern. A longer term will give the USTA credibility and stability with our business relationships and industry partners, as well as our international alliances.
The USTA is an amazing organization. We are the envy of organizations throughout the world, not only in the tennis arena but in all types of volunteer associations. The reason for this envy is our incredible network of volunteer leadership at the National, Section, State\District and local levels. We are indeed very fortunate.
We have become a progressive organization and more receptive to change, although often moving too slowly. We have in fact accomplished change in many areas and we are a stronger organization for doing so.
As the Immediate Past President of the USTA and having lived the experience of the two-year term, I believe it is time to take that next step and change to a three-year term.
It is the right thing to do for the USTA as an organization and more importantly for the sport and business of tennis.
Lucy S. Garvin of Greenville, S.C., served as President, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of the USTA for the 2009-2010 term. A longtime volunteer at all levels of the game, including President of the USTA Southern Section, she currently serves on the USTA Board as Immediate Past President and Chairman of the USTA Major Construction Oversight Committee. She is Vice President of the International Tennis Federation and is Chairman of the ITF Junior Competitions Committee. In 1975 she began a career in the tennis industry, managing a tennis facility in Greenville, S.C., then as a consultant in the management and marketing of tennis facilities throughout the South.
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