USTA Florida prides itself on working in communities across the state to provide community-based tennis opportunities for families, youth, and adults of all abilities and backgrounds. The USTA Florida Community Tennis Team are the movers and shakers of the organization, who are always out in the community promoting and volunteering with local tennis programs, supporting providers, and organizing events with a mission to grow the game and promote tennis for all. Tennis is for everyone; and from wheelchair and adaptive tennis to family play and after-school programs, community tennis continues to grow throughout the Sunshine state.
Here are some of the 2019 highlights:
Adaptive & Wheelchair
USTA Florida promotes, develops and supports programs for individuals with differing physical and/or mental abilities and circumstances, and encourage facilities to provide adaptive tennis opportunities in their communities. The Section’s outreach includes collaboration with organizations who serve special populations (ACEing Autism, Love Serving Autism, Buddy Up for Down Syndrome, Tennis for Fun), participation at state events and support to adaptive tennis programs through grants.
Special Olympics Florida
In May, more than 190 singles and doubles tennis athletes descended on the USTA National Campus in Orlando for the 2019 Special Olympics Florida State Tennis Championships, hosted by USTA Florida. Athletes from 24 counties participated: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jackson, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa, Sarasota and Seminole.
The Florida tennis community rallied to support the stand-alone event as approximately 50 coaches, 200 state volunteers, 50 delegates, and more than 40 USTA Florida volunteers and staff made the 2019 Special Olympics-Florida State Tennis Championships a reality. Through the partnership with Special Olympics Florida and USTA Florida, Special Olympics tennis participation in Florida has increased 29% over the last year.
And with that, we conclude the 2019 Special Olympics Florida State Tennis Championships at the United States Tennis Association – USTA (Official) National Campus! 👏🎾🏅THANK YOU to all partners, families, volunteers, staff and most importantly, the athletes, for a spectacular event. Comment and TAG a participant, volunteer, or colleague that you know from the event! #USTAEmbraceAll #tennisforeveryone
Posted by USTA Florida on Friday, May 10, 2019
Dedication and hard work came to fruition in 2019, as the Community Tennis Team developed training and education materials for a number of adaptive initiatives and programs. USTA Florida used these guidelines and tools to hold trainings throughout the year in their regions for coaches and CTAs to learn how to run local Special Olympics and adaptive programs.
2019 USTA Adaptive National Championships
Florida’s very own Brittany Tagliareni and unified partner Liam Gomez took home the top trophy at the 2019 USTA Adaptive National Championships held at the USTA National Campus in October. 20 teams from 11 USTA Sections participated in the 2019 Adaptive National Championships, with two teams representing the USTA Florida Section. This was the second year in a row Tagliareni and Gomez were named champions of the event, after they captured first place during the 2018 inaugural event.
“It was an honor to play in this tournament again and I really enjoy getting to play with Liam,” said Tagliareni after the event.
Programs & Events
In 2019, USTA Florida facilitated and aided several programs and events with the ultimate goal of growing adaptive tennis. Some of those included:
In April, USTA Florida partnered with the adaptive community and the Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center to provide “XGLOsive for Everyone” to more than 40 adaptive and wheelchair participants. The two-hour event featured blacklight tennis play for Love Serving Autism, Special Olympics Florida, Jamie’s Angels (a local Palm Beach program for special needs athletes) and local wheelchair athletes.
The Community Tennis Team participated as volunteers and on-court coaches at the USTA Wounded Warrior Camp held at the USTA National Campus in October, where veterans and their families had the chance to get out on the court to learn and play the game.
USTA Florida staff hosted two NEC Wheelchair Masters Kids Day in November, where students from Lake Nona High School participated in on-court activities while also getting the opportunity to watch wheelchair tennis.
Tennis for all may be three simple words, but together it’s the idea that anyone from anywhere should be able to play and compete. That’s the driving force behind USTA Florida’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion of the sport to the next generation – and future generations – of players and volunteers.
Recognizing Black History Month
In February African American players, coaches, and those giving back to their local communities through their love of the game shared their stories with USTA Florida during Black History Month. Promoting unity in our culture, they spoke about the importance of Black History Month and how it’s inspired them in tennis and their lives.
We spoke to parent and tennis player, Anthony Hubert, while his family attended our Net Generation Kids and Family Day at the Delray Beach Open about the importance of #BlackHistoryMonth, unity in our culture, and his love of the game of tennis! Thank you, Anthony, for speaking with us and sharing your thoughts. #AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth #TennisForEveryone #USTAEmbraceAll #FloridaTennis
Posted by USTA Florida on Thursday, February 21, 2019
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
In September USTA Florida observed Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of the state’s Hispanic and Latino citizens. Hispanic culture has a rich history and influence on Florida tennis, seen from the southernmost counties all the way through the Panhandle, and USTA Florida embraced those cultural roots with profiles of local members in the Hispanic tennis community. In the fall USTA Florida hosted a series of events encouraging the growth of the Hispanic population participation in tennis, coupled with family play opportunities so the whole family could get involved.
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USTA Florida está celebrando el mes de herencia Hispana este septiembre compartiendo perfiles de miembros de esta comunidad aquí en la capital del sol. Les presentamos a Stacey Speller de 29 años. Stacey Speller, quien es una entrenadora voluntaria de tenis en el condado de Volusia, ha estado involucrada en el deporte desde que tenía cinco años. Stacey es de Nueva York con raíces Puertorriqueñas; ella nací en Brooklyn, creció en los Bronx con sus padres que nacieron en la isla. Lea mas en 👉www.ustaflorida.com/perfil-mes-de-herencia-hispana-conoce-a-stacey-speller/👈 #HispanicHeritageMonth #TenisParaTodos #TennisForEveryone
Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community
Organizations around the state are using tennis as a vehicle to bring the LGBTQ+ community together year-round, and USTA Florida continues to be a large proponent for these organizations. The Section has provided sponsorships for the Orange Blossom Tennis Association Championship, Art Deco Tournament (Miami Mavericks), and the Come Out with Pride Parade in downtown Orlando along with the USTA National Campus.
Another organization USTA Florida is proud to support is the South Florida Tennis Club (SFTC), a member of the worldwide Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA), one of the largest gay-organized organizations in the world with roughly 200 members. SFTC serves the Fort Lauderdale area and provides spring and fall tennis ladders for singles and doubles, team tennis, and hosts two annual Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) sanctioned tournaments. Advantage Tampa Bay promotes recreational tennis all over the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Their Citrus Classic Championship is held in the late fall and is sanctioned by the GLTA, while the Buccaneer Doubles tournament is held in the spring.
USTA Florida takes pride in promoting family play and the bonding experiences it brings to families both on and off the court, which is why getting families to play together was a big goal for the Section in 2019. Free family events for all ages and skill levels were held across the state with a goal of getting the whole family on the court – mom, dad, children, grandparents – and to have fun playing the sport.
“USTA Florida is excited to encourage Family Play Days and events to introduce tennis to new participants in a format where the ‘family unit’ can learn the sport together,” said Danielle Gooding, Director of Community Tennis at USTA Florida. “That precious hour or more of ‘together time’ is such a rarity these days. We’re happy we can support those moments and at the same time show them how wonderful and easily accessible the sport is.”
From general family play days to daddy tennis days and tech-free family events – families across Florida with or without previous tennis experience were able to get on the court and create new memories. Learn more about the ways you can enjoy tennis as a family at ustaflorida.com/familyplay.
Schools & After-School
The love for sports begins in schools, and schools are the perfect setting to introduce tennis thanks to the great relationships USTA Florida is developing with teachers. Tennis is a sport that can be played anywhere – no courts needed. That means with the proper equipment, tennis can be enjoyed in gyms or cafeterias, on playgrounds, throughout hallways and in many other non-traditional places. A goal for USTA Florida is to support partners, providers, and schools in providing a fun introduction to tennis to children in elementary and middle school.
After-School Tennis Pilot Program
In an effort to instill the love of tennis in younger students, USTA Florida developed an After-School Tennis Pilot Program that launched in the fall of 2019. The 7-week program offered teachers a new opportunity to keep their students active after school, while USTA Florida provided the financial support, training, and necessary equipment. 11 schools across the state participated, with providers agreeing to follow Net Generation Program guidelines.
“This pilot program has been pivotal in making and keeping tennis relevant to elementary schools and physical education teachers,” said USTA Florida Community Play Coordinator Magali Holt. “We saw great success this fall, which in turn, helps the Section convey that we have a product that is free for providers to offer.”
School Trainings & Workshops
Tennis is a lot more than just hitting the ball – it’s a learning experience that also promotes social skills, important values, cooperation, and individual self-growth. Along with programs, USTA Florida provided resources, expertise, and knowledge to all coaches, teachers, and volunteers who were interested in offering programs in 2019. The organization has hosted several school training days, where physical education teachers are given the tools, training, and confidence needed to introduce tennis to their students. USTA Florida makes it a point to be represented at events such as the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) Florida Conference and the Florida After-School Alliance (FASA) Conference to have the opportunity to share with hundreds of teachers around the state how the Section and Net Generation could assist them in bringing tennis to their students, both during school hours and after-school.
In February, more than 170 children and family participants and multiple community organizations made for a memorable, first-ever USTA Florida Net Generations Kids and Family Day at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. Kids from Florida non-profit organizations Special Olympics Florida, the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation, and the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation took part in the event featuring games, free play for families and youth, and other stations right outside the stadium court of the ATP World Tour event.
USTA Florida hosted Kids Day at the Miami Open, powered by Net Generation, on the concourse of Hard Rock Stadium in March. Despite some inclement weather, more than 500 kids participated in learning tennis drills, practicing their skills, and even got the chance to meet some pro tennis players John Millman, Simona Halep, Frances Tiafoe and legendary coach Nick Bollettieri.
Rain or shine, we had a great time at Miami Open Kid's Day with IMG Academy United States Tennis Association – USTA…
Young tennis stars got out on the courts at the USTA National Campus in July, for the free Orlando Storm Kid’s Day in conjunction with the Orlando Storm World Team Tennis Team. Racquets were supplied to juniors of all playing abilities for a fun-filled hour of tennis activities, followed by pizza and then the chance to spectate an Orlando Storm World Team Tennis match.
130 kids from Cypress Springs Elementary and 50 from Bridge Prep Academy were invited to the USTA National Campus for Kids Day at the 2019 Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals in September, a collaborative effort between USTA Florida and the USTA.
The students were split into groups to represent different countries to support the 16-and-under teams from all over the world competing in the Junior Davis and Fed Cup Finals. Each group rotated through a series of fun activities to practice their tennis skills, with coaches guiding them along the way to make sure everyone got the chance to play, laugh, and enjoy the experience.
“I hope we were able to show the kids that tennis can be a game that will help them build friendships and learn skills they’ll use for a lifetime,” said USTA Florida Tennis Service Representative Megan Ryan.
All are welcome was the main message behind the Lucky in Love Tennis and Fashion Community Fun Day, a collaborative effort between USTA Florida and the USTA held in November. Presented by tennis apparel company Lucky in Love, the community event featured family tennis play, wheelchair tennis demonstrations, and an adaptive fashion exhibit.
USTA Florida has also teamed with Pro-Circuit events to offer opportunities and events to local communities. The Section hosted a Kids Day during the Tallahassee Challenger in April and provided support to schools to transport students and teachers to participate; as well as hosted a Special Olympics Day where special Olympians were treated to tennis games with kids-sized racquets and foam balls followed by lunch.
We had tons of fun with W. T. Moore Elementary School & Roberts Elementary School today at the Tallahassee Tennis…
Thirteen USTA Florida National Junior Tennis & Learning network (NJTL) programs in Florida were approved in June, offering youth after-school opportunities to learn tennis and remain active while supporting school studies. Network members include the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation, the Greater Naples YMCA, and the Bullard Family Foundation Tennis and Learning Academy. Chapter members are First Serve Miami, the Venom Foundation, the Posh Rock Tennis Foundation, B. Harris Kids, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, Palm Beach Area Tennis Patrons, Frontline Outreach, Team Junior Tennis, the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, and the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA).
2019 was the 50th anniversary of the NJTL and as part of the celebration and in conjunction with the D&I grant, USTA Florida conducted several USTA Team Challenge events.
Those are just some of the highlights. To review more stories and results, click on the categories below: