Midland, MI Voted America's 'Best Tennis Town'
*WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — * The town of Midland, Mich., tonight was named the winner of the USTA’s “Best Tennis Town” search, the first-ever initiative designed to identify and reward the American communities—from small, rural towns to large, urban metro areas and everywhere in between—that best exemplify the passion, excitement, spirit and impact that tennis brings to the local level.
The announcement was made Sunday night during a special ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the 2009 US Open competition at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. As America’s “Best Tennis Town,” Midland—which garnered the most votes during the nationwide, online balloting period from July 16to July 26—will receive a $100,000 grant from the USTA to be used for community-wide tennis programming or facility enhancements.
Representatives from the top three vote-getting communities in contention for “BestTennis Town”—Midland, Ojai, Calif., and Independence, Kan.—were all in attendance. The city of Ojai, the first runner-up to Midland, will take home a $50,000 community tennis grant from the USTA for their local tennis programs, and second runner-up Independence will receive a $25,000 USTA grant.
“The ‘Best Tennis Town’ competition set out to find a town that is committed to the sport and its growth in the community,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of all of the entrants and are pleased to see Midland, a community that exudes such spirit and passion for tennis, take home the title and the grant to continue its dedication to tennis in the community.”
With a population of 41,685, Midland has more than 10,000 local players who take to their community courts every year. The Midland Community Tennis Center also hosts more than 20 tennis tournaments throughout the year. The community’s spirit for tennis was in evidence at the US Open ceremony, with a bus full of 80 town residents making the trek from Michigan to New York to support Midland in hopes it would capture the title.
“We do our best to exemplify the community spirit that is at the heart of the USTA’s mission,” said Mike Woody, Executive Director of the Midland Tennis Center, who received the trophy and $100,000 grant check on behalf of Midland. “We must thank the entire community—local, regional and state—as well as the great support we get from our people, our public schools and all the local businesses and partners whose efforts really made this honor possible.”
Midland beat out a total of 56 cities in the USTA’s nationwide search to identifyAmerica’s “Best Tennis Town.” The national competition began in May, when tennis communities from across the country submitted their entries for consideration on www.besttennistown.com. After carefully reviewing each submission, a panel of judges selected 10 communities as finalists. The USTA profiled the Top 10 contenders on www.besttennistown.com and hosted a nationwide vote to determine the 2009 “Best Tennis Town.”
In addition to Midland,Mich., Ojai, Calif., and Independence, Kan., the other seven towns selected received an honorable mention and $2,000 worth of tennis equipment: Baton Rouge, La.; Cary,N.C.; Grand Junction,Colo.; Hickory,N.C.; Las Vegas; Springfield, Mo.; and Tempe, Ariz.
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