The largest community initiative in American history, the United States Tennis Association (USTA), was celebrated at Grove Park in Atlanta, Ga. The celebration marked the completion of the refurbishment and creation of 3,000 tennis courts, the most ever by the USTA in a single calendar year.
Grove Park is emblematic of the 502 facilities that have been upgraded by the USTA in 283 markets throughout the country. Through its facilities assistance group, the USTA has succeeded in the construction and renovation of 3,000 tennis courts in 45 states in 2011. The courts were either constructed or refurbished by painting permanent 36-foot and 60-foot tennis lines on existing 78-foot tennis courts or constructing standalone 36-foot and 60-foot courts. The courts were built in public parks, schoolyards and tennis facilities and for local community-based youth organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club.
The USTA’s efforts are in accordance with the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) new rule that now requires all youth tennis courts be specially lined or built to enable participation of the “10 and Under Tennis” play format. The play format consists of modified tennis equipment, which includes smaller courts, lower nets, smaller racquets, lower compression balls and a scoring system that’s easier for kids to understand. With equipment and courts tailored to suit their needs and abilities, kids have more confidence and fun as soon as they pick up a racquet.
The new rule takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
“The USTA committed to impacting 3,000 courts in 2011, and we succeeded,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA chairman of the board and president. “By investing in local infrastructure, we can continue to grow the game at the grassroots level, energize players of all ages and help improve communities across the country.”
“We are delighted to welcome the USTA to Atlanta as they celebrate this significant milestone,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “The investment from these new tennis courts-seven of which are right here in Atlanta-will have real, tangible benefits for our residents and young people for many years to come. I applaud the USTA for their dedication and commitment to encouraging young people to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.”
The USTA also joined forces with first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative in 2011 to encourage young people across the country to get active, play tennis and lead healthy lifestyles. A component of the collaboration with “Let’s Move!” was the commitment to encourage 200,000 children to participate in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA).
The USTA exceeded its commitment and had more than 226,000 kids participate in and complete the PALA challenge. To date, the USTA has had more kids complete the challenge than any other youth sports organization in the United States.
For more information on the USTA’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative, visit 10andundertennis.com. Interested communities are encouraged to visit usta.com/facilities to learn more.
The USTA is a not-for-profit organization with more than 750,000 members. It invests 100 percent of its proceeds. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and helps underserved youth and people with disabilities. For more information on the USTA, visit usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page facebook.com/usta or follow @usta on Twitter.