Grassroots Tennis: Play It Forward!
CTAs, public parks and NJTLs are on the front lines when it comes to growing this sport in communities.
USTA Missouri Valley: Rural JTT Squad Starts With Basics
For members of the Panhandle Gold Junior Team Tennis squad from Bridgeport, Neb., the team’s experience at the USTA Missouri Valley JTT Championships in Topeka, Kan., earlier this year was a result of enthusiasm, determination and falling in love with the game of tennis after very simple beginnings.
Five of the six team members first learned about tennis during play events at the Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport (pop. 1,500), one of the westernmost towns in the section. The nets in the community center were comprised of caution tape tied between two chairs on a gym floor, and only the most basic fundamentals of the game were taught.
“One of the biggest reasons for the success is the emphasis we put on fun and sportsmanship,” says Darren Emerick, program director at the community center and youth tennis specialist for USTA Nebraska. Emerick hopes this squad of kids ages 14 and under will now become lifelong tennis players who can go on to play more junior tournaments, then Tennis on Campus in college and eventually USTA Leagues.
They simply play for the enjoyment of the game, he adds. “They’re happy in Junior Team Tennis and not really interested in tournaments for ranking points.” — Andrew Robinson
USTA Midwest: New Association Helps Organize ‘Queen City Open’
The Queen City Tennis Association, founded in early 2015, was initially started in order to organize the first annual Queen City Open, a Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) sponsored world tennis tour event.
“Our organization is new to the city of Cincinnati,” says Jeffrey Morgeson, founder of the association. “I have been a member of the GLTA since 2012, playing GLTA-sponsored tournaments all around the U.S. The GLTA has had such a profound effect on my life that I felt a strong desire to bring something here to Cincinnati.”
The Queen City Open was held last spring at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, home to the Western & Southern Open, an ATP and WTA Tour Masters series event. According to the Queen City Tennis Association, 98 players participated, both LGBT and non-LGBT, from all over the U.S. and Canada. The second Queen City Open is scheduled for this May.
“I felt the need to share my city and its world-class tennis facility with the amazing friends and acquaintances I’ve met, as well as welcome new players to enjoy a GLTA event,” Morgeson says. “The GLTA provides a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT players, and readily welcomes non-LGBT friends and allies as well.”
Morgeson says the GLTA helped bring him back to the game after many years. “The GLTA helped me find that love for tennis again and along with it, introduced a new international social environment that has been life-changing,” he says. “The support of the GLTA and the USTA has been amazing and vital to our efforts to grow tennis in the small LGBT community of Cincinnati.” — Tracy Maymon
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