2012 USTA Annual Meeting
‘Change’ a Big Topic at Gathering of USTA Volunteers, Staff
USTA leaders talked about the importance of change at the Annual Meeting in mid-March, held at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.
“All of us need to realize that things don’t get better by chance, but by change,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen (above right) at the opening session. More than 800 volunteers and staff attended the meeting. “The importance of change in our sport cannot be overstated. We work to change and enhance people’s lives.”
Vegosen outlined a few changes on the horizon, including the construction of a new Grandstand Stadium at the US Open and a new roof-ready Louis Armstrong Stadium. The USTA also has created “national volunteer competencies,” which add a framework for selection to national committees and other positions. Another change is the National Junior Tournament structure and schedule, helping to make it more cost-effective and time-effective for parents and student tennis players.
The 10 and Under Tennis initiative has been another major change in tennis. “We’ve change our approach, and that’s made our sport much more approachable,” Vegosen said of the 10U initiative.
USTA CEO Gordon Smith described “how we’ve changed things in White Plains to respond more quickly. Everyone on the White Plains staff has to be mission-driven. If you’re not about the mission, it’s not good enough.”
Smith said the staff “was very much in ‘fiefdoms.’ There can’t be limits on who works on what and who they work with.”
“The ‘what’ is to promote and develop the growth of tennis, the ‘why’ is because tennis changes lives,” Smith said.
Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis, keyed on bringing more kids into the game. “10 and Under Tennis is our silver bullet,” he said. “It will have a huge effect, with long-term consequences. We’ll be talking about 10 and Under Tennis for years to come.”
About 38,000 local providers have gone through 10 and Under Tennis training in the last five years, Kamperman said. To date, the USTA has given 50,000 “first-year free” memberships to kids. The USTA also is promoting different types of events to bring kids into tennis, including Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Tennis PlayDays.
“We have the infrastructure, the key right now is local delivery. Are we ready at the grassroots?” said Kamperman.
“Our biggest challenge is that we have a lot of facilities and programs that are only halfway in,” he added. “Is your facility, section, CTA going to offer the very best experience possible?”
Kamperman outlined steps for a successful 10U program: 1) promote using the right equipment, 2) promote 36- and 60-foot lines for courts, 3) promote training opportunities, and 4) register programs on 10andundertennis.com.
Volunteers, Rod Laver Honored
During an awards lunch at the Annual Meeting in California in March, the USTA honored top volunteers and others. Sports broadcaster Ted Robinson emceed the event, and after the awards he interviewed tennis legend Rod Laver on stage, in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of Laver’s first Grand Slam.
Award winners recognized at the meeting are:
- Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award (in partnership with the International Tennis Hall of Fame): Josh Hagar, Austin, Texas; Sierra Halverson, Minneapolis; Andrew Ball, Palo Alto, Calif.; Whitney Kay, Alpharetta, Ga.
- Seniors’ Service Award (for excellence in service to senior tennis): Alice Lee, Capitol Heights, Md.
- Brad Parks Award (for outstanding contributions to wheelchair tennis): Dean Oba, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- NJTL Founders’ Service Award (for outstanding contributions to the NJTL network): David N. Dinkins, New York, N.Y.
- Barbara Williams Leadership Award (for a female volunteer who encourages and inspires others to volunteer): Sue Gregor, Wayzata, Minn.
- USTA Organization Member of the Year Award: Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center, St. Paul, Minn.
- Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award: Huether Family, Sioux Falls, S.D.