The world of adult tennis for USTA Florida was big in 2019, and we mean really big. From growing the game with Adult Beginner to expanding the teams involved in the Tennis on Campus Series, more and more adults are enjoying the sport of a lifetime.
Here are some of the 2019 highlights:
2019 was the year of adult beginner play after the organization put a strong focus on extending the game to new adult players who think it may be too late to learn how to play. Adult beginner programs aim to be a judgment-free zone to help those unfamiliar with the sport feel welcomed into the community and comfortable on the court, all while the organization and teaching professionals help them create a connection with the local tennis network.
This year alone, more than 500 new beginner players were attracted to the sport by USTA Florida created and piloted “Love to Learn” and “Love to Play” programs. The programs, now featured in 34 facilities across the state, offer an easy and fun path to learning the sport in just a few weeks. New players are given everything they need to know about the game in a fast-paced but no-pressure environment.
“We are trying to engage adults who have never played tennis before with our new adult beginner programs,” said Christine Ducey, USTA Florida Director of Adult Tennis. “We partner with tennis providers to offer a low-cost, easy to join group class for adults to learn to play in just a few weeks. With the innovation of low-compression balls and play-based instruction, today’s teaching professionals can get players actually playing tennis really fast.”
Players work with teaching professionals to build the fundamentals and learn shot basics, and before the players know it – they’re on the court rallying with others. After graduating from a “Love to Learn” course, players can opt to take part in a “Love to Play” program which features more advanced match play. The program utilizes volunteer sport Ambassadors who support and mentor the new players through their first play experiences.
For more information on programs for adult beginners, visit www.ustaflorida.com/adultbeginner.
USTA Florida also saw a need to promote more social play in the adult tennis space. Social play offers a great alternative to players who don’t want to join competitive league teams but would rather just enjoy the leisure of the game. In 2019, our USTA Florida-managed facilities along with our Local Play Coordinators took initiative and expanded beyond the traditional League program by experimenting with some exciting social play opportunities for their communities.
Whether it’s Tacos & Tennis at the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center, Coffee & Croissants at Westside Park in Gainesville, special monthly themed events such as “Wimbledon Whites & Wooden Racquets” and the Freedom Cup, or multi-club round robins – there are plenty of social opportunities and mixers for all players. Through these efforts, USTA Florida has offered social events in every region of the state and social participants this year are through the roof – impacting more than 1,300 players.
“Studies show tennis is a great activity to help people stay fit, live longer, and be social all at the same time; not to mention the fact that it is fun for all ages,” said Ducey. “Our world is increasingly connected online but being connected to others in your local community through sports, like tennis, can be beneficial too. Meeting and interacting with people whose only similarity may be an interest in tennis, is a great opportunity to make new friends.”
Tennis on Campus
The University of Miami club tennis team capped off a program-best season in February, by winning the 2018-19 USTA Florida “Tennis on Campus” Section Championships at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla. with a defeat over powerhouse University of Florida in the Gold Bracket final 22-21.
Fast-forward to right now, midway through the 2019-20 Tennis on Campus club circuit, as UF attempts to climb back to the top of the hill. The UF club tennis team has won the season-ending championship four times in the last five years, and besides UM, the only other lone champion in the last six years has been the University of Central Florida. That could change this season though as UCF is on the top of the leaderboard with three wins, with UF hot on their heels with two.
The USTA’s Tennis on Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and rivaled competition through tennis without the rigors of a NCAA varsity program. Tennis on Campus offers fun co-ed team-based play (using the World TeamTennis scoring format), regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. The program has grown over the years, and 2019 was no exception; several new club teams from Lynn University, Nova, Florida Institute of Technology, New College of Florida, and Beacon College joined for the 2019-20 season, along with the additional of two new events at the University of Tampa and Florida Atlantic University.
The next event on the 2019-20 USTA Florida “Tennis on Campus” schedule will be the UNF Swoop the Nest in Jacksonville on Jan. 11.
2019 is the first year USTA Florida offered four USTA NTRP National Qualifier tournaments, two for 18 & Over and two for 50 & Over. Players competed in men’s and women’s singles and doubles for 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 divisions. The qualified division winners advance to represent the USTA Florida Section at the 2020 USTA National NTRP 18 & Over Championships.
Those are just some of the highlights. To review more stories and results, click on the categories below:
For more information about adult tennis, click here.
Check back later this week for an in-depth look at 2019 Adult Leagues and the road to the 2019 Florida League Championship Cup!