Park & Rec Agency of the Year: Reston Assoc.
It’s hard to pick just one word to describe tennis in Reston, Va. “Unique” comes to mind. So does “impressive” and “active.”
Tennis in this Washington, D.C., suburb of 62,000 is through the nonprofit Reston Association. “We are an NJTL, a CTA and a Tennis in the Park, and my job is to grow tennis, providing it as an amenity for the community and sharing our passion,” says Tennis Manager Mary Conaway, who started teaching for RA Parks, Recreation & Events in 1997.
There are 52 community courts in more than a dozen locations, including eight sub-irrigated clay courts, 26 lighted courts and six Youth Tennis courts. Programming reaches about 2,500 adults and kids. “We also have a large after-school program where we teach tennis in gyms,” says Conaway. The Reston Association also offers scholarships, and there is “a huge group of volunteers” to do fundraising.
Recently, the Reston Association was named USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Organization of the Year, and now, it receives honors from RSI as the 2012 Park & Rec Agency of the Year.
The hard courts stay open year-round, but most of the more than a dozen staff is seasonal. “A lot of our pros are really community-oriented and love to give back,” says Conaway, who herself is active at the USTA section and national levels and currently chairs the USTA’s Learning and Leadership Development Committee.
“Reston Association is a model agency that highlights tennis as a great opportunity to increase physical activity for all residents,” says David Slade, USTA national manager for Community Tennis. “The USTA couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
Maybe there is a word that best describes Reston tennis: “outstanding.”
Tips for Success
- If you love something, share your passion, because it’s contagious.
- “We’ve always done the ‘games’ approach to teaching tennis,” says Conaway, “because we want to make it fun.”
- Position tennis as a lifestyle, not just a sport. “It’s a great social connector.”
- “We really try to market to the community and get the word out there because we are so unique,” she adds.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.