USTA section of the year: USTA Eastern
By Kent Oswald
A USTA section is defined geographically, but its success is achieved with an attitude that encourages reaching out in all directions. For USTA Eastern, says longtime volunteer, player and coach Sunny Fishkind, “The most important change in recent years is the section has broadened its definition of constituents — we’ll help anyone with tennis in mind to get involved.”
In a formal statement, “The members of the USTA Eastern Section Board of Directors unanimously agree … that the simple and clear mission of the Section is, ‘To Promote and Develop the Growth of Tennis.’ We take as axiomatic that an increase in USTA membership and in USTA program participation is a consequence of and not a cause of the growth of tennis. We believe it to be critical that we devote significant Sectional financial and human resources to the game’s growth, without regard to any direct or immediate impact on USTA membership and programs.”
This enlightened attitude and practical approach toward growing the game overall makes Eastern the perfect recipient of TI’s 2013 USTA Section of the Year honors.
Executive Director Jill Fonte says assets “have been redeployed toward programs and partnerships that produce new and frequent players. This emphasis on participation rather than membership has required a belief in the appeal of tennis and the courage to risk short-term financial reward for the longer term benefits of building the base of players.”
“Our section is actively reaching out to club owners, teaching pros, school teachers, players, league captains, and retailers,” Fishkind says. “Everyone wants to see tennis grow.” — Kent Oswald
Tips for Success
- Don’t let the exploration of new opportunities detract from existing efforts.
- While numbers of members is an important metric, membership alone shouldn’t be the central focus. Getting more people playing is the key to growing the sport, whether they’re USTA members or not.
- Interactive communication with all stakeholders about strategy and successes is a key to progress.
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.
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