Grassroots Tennis: Play It Forward!
CTAs and public parks are on the front lines when it comes to growing this sport in communities.
TEXAS: Creating ‘Hot Shots’!
What do you get when you combine a local superstar sports organization, a brand new USTA Texas program, and a former World No.1’s tennis foundation? More than 450 new kids in the game.
The Alex O’Brien Tennis Foundation and KidsInc, both of Amarillo, were looking to introduce tennis as a new sport offering at KidsInc, and they found the USTA Texas’s “Hot Shot” program to be the perfect combination of skills in a cooperative team format.
“The idea of teaming up with USTA and KidsInc to reach kids with little to no exposure to tennis was too good to be true,” said O’Brien, a former World No. 1 doubles and No. 30 singles player.
Hot Shots reaches kids right after their introduction to tennis in PE, providing them the opportunity for semi-formal, team-based, fun and social competition. Through four to six sessions, players compete with groups of teams and are guided by a “Commissioner of Play,” who has had access to USTA Texas training as well as the “Play Plan.” Local Amarillo pros, coaches, and parents volunteered to help on court.
“Alex and his colleagues made this program well-received and extremely successful,” said Jimmy Lackey, president and CEO of KidsInc. “Our goal is to continue the original curriculum and add a more advanced curriculum.” And, with support from the Amarillo Area Tennis Association, the next step is to transition kids into Junior Team Tennis and Junior Tournaments. — Amanda Friday
INTERMOUNTAIN: Rebuilding in Boulder
Rain hit the greater Denver area in September 2013 with a vengeance. Within a week, more than 17 inches fell in Boulder County alone, causing catastrophic flooding along Colorado’s Front Range. Gov. John Hickenlooper declared a disaster emergency on Sept. 12, 2013, in 14 counties. Hundreds of homes were damaged and destroyed and several lives were lost.
Flood waters surged down rivers and creeks, inundating fields and pastures, and leaving Knollwood Tennis Courts under a blanket of thick mud. This fall, the City of Boulder’s Parks & Recreation Department began its facility upgrade work at the courts, with help from the USTA family.
In August, the USTA Facility Assistance Program awarded a $25,000 grant to the city to support the rebuilding of the damaged tennis courts, and Colorado Tennis Association and Intermountain Tennis Foundation donated an additional $5,000. Facility enhancements will include two post-tension concrete courts, new fencing and equipment, new stairs and an ADA accessible walkway ramp, and an improved drainage system.
“We are very fortunate to have strong collaboration in our section with the Colorado District and the Intermountain Tennis Foundation,” said USTA Intermountain Executive Director Rob Scott. “We are very grateful to Kurt Kamperman and the USTA Facility Assistance Program for providing the lion’s share of these funds. Without this assistance these courts would have been lost from Boulder’s inventory forever.”
The Knollwood Tennis Courts project is one of the city’s final 2013 flood recovery efforts (also supported by FEMA and city funds) and anticipated to be completed this spring — provided the weather holds. — Wendy Anderson
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