Our Serve: Gaining Perspective
The US Open is inextricably linked with 9/11. The tragedy in 2001 took place two days after Lleyton Hewitt beat Pete Sampras in the US Open final in New York. Sept. 11 often will fall within the tournament’s two weeks. For the rest of our lives, probably every US Open will have a commemoration of the day that changed America.
This year, a rain-interrupted schedule pushed the men’s final to Monday, Sept. 12, but the women’s final and other matches did take place on Sunday. In a tasteful remembrance of 10 years ago, the USTA had “9/11/01” painted on the side of the court and honored the victims and heroes of that day and of the years since.
As appropriate as all this is, I’m grateful for the simple realization that tennis is a game — that’s all. And I know the issues, controversies and disagreements we deal with in this sport and industry need to be put into perspective in our lives.
Sure, we’d like more American champions in the pro game, and we differ on how to achieve that. Yes, we need to increase overall participation and create more frequent players and consumers, and we often differ on how to do that, too. While 10 and Under Tennis holds a lot of promise, there are issues about how to best deliver tennis to kids. There are disagreements within and between plenty of organizations in this industry, too.
These and other issues are important to us in this industry, but think about it: Do we need to make these issues divisive? Can’t we appreciate the good things going on in tennis all around us, yet still work together for change and improvement in a way that doesn’t alienate or marginalize others?
I’ve always believed we can work together effectively in this industry. Yes, disagree, but keep debates healthy and fair — and realize that this is a game, after all. And that it should be fun.
I feel incredibly lucky to work in this industry. I know there are challenges on all fronts, but let’s keep this industry, this sport, in perspective. If we’ve learned anything in the last 10 years, we’ve learned there are many more important issues out there we need to deal with and work through.
And we’ve learned that no matter what it is, we work better together.
One way we in the tennis industry can work together is through the USTA’s Adopt-A-Unit program, which sends needed personal supplies to our military men and women overseas. During the Open, the USTA held a “packing party” at its Semi-Annual Meeting and more than 150 people donated items to ship to units overseas. The USTA then sent those units tennis equipment to help provide recreation. Dozens of military units have been “adopted” by clubs, teams, CTAs and organizations across the country. Visit usta.com/military to find out more, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.