Grassroots Tennis: Play It Forward!
CTAs and public parks are on the front lines when it comes to growing this sport in communities.
USTA Northern California: Just Ace It!
Getting tennis off the ground in rural and socio-economically challenged areas can be tough. But despite the challenges, “Just Ace It” has taken an approach that turned out to be a game-changer — with amazing turnouts. Working in close collaboration with the USTA and taking advantage of USTA grants for programs, equipment and blended lines, Just Ace It Tennis & Education, a CTA and NJTL, “served” after-school tennis fun, for free, to about a hundred kids at three elementary schools in NorCal’s Tuolumne County last spring.
In April, Dr. Ron Jacobs, founder of Just Ace It, launched the Just Ace It Tennis Mobile to increase the awareness of what is happening with tennis in this rural area. The car is not only cool-looking, but is filled with tennis gear, including a custom-built insert with a pull-out mechanism that’s loaded with racquets on one side and a 42-inch TV screen on the other side. The car, the wrap, and the custom insert were all donated by local companies.
This innovative concept is infectious, and it’s getting a community together and excited about tennis. This fall, the Just Ace It Tennis Mobile will serve six schools, and plans are in the works to develop a Tennis Center to serve the region — a place for kids to go and grow tennis and education. — Diane Brooks
USTA Mid-Atlantic: Day on Grass Courts
On July 16, the Washington, D.C., Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) hosted a huge Play Day at the Deanwood Recreation Center in Northeast Washington, bringing together kids from about a dozen different recreation centers in the city. In honor of Wimbledon, and unique to pretty much any park and rec program in the U.S., the event included grass tennis courts.
More than 100 kids participated in match play. The event showcased the 10 and Under Tennis play format, which allows youngsters the chance to achieve immediate success by playing tennis on smaller courts, with smaller and lighter racquets, and using slower moving and lower bouncing red, orange and green balls.
In addition to Deanwood Rec Center staff, personnel from 11 other DPR recreation sites and partner organizations took part in the Play Day, including Barry Farm, Takoma, Southeast Tennis & Learning Center, Fort Stanton, Marie Reed, Kennedy, Bald Eagle, Benning Stoddert, Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, Actives Aces and Fort Lincoln.
As part of its ongoing effort to encourage more young people to stay active and to play tennis, this “Summer Camp Extravaganza” also included other fun and healthy activities such as a moon bounce, Frisbees, inflatable horse racing, obstacle courses, nutrition tips, healthy snacks, and free gifts and prizes.
“The kids had a great time playing on the grass, and they all talked about playing on the same type of courts that are at Wimbledon, which was fresh on their minds from the week before,” says Jeri Ingram, tennis manager for DC DPR. “And of course, the kids wanted the Play Day to last much longer! They wanted to know when we’re going to have the next one.” — Ronnie Goodall
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