The Montessori School of Pensacola (MSP) was named as the recipient of a national USTA Facility Grant of $7,600 for reconditioning two Har-Tru 78-foot tennis courts and installing padding on existing light poles.
MSP, which was a previous grant recipient for 10 and Under Tennis courts, provides 130 school-age children with 21 weeks of tennis instruction during the yearly P.E. program. It also provides opportunities to participate in after-school tennis contracted through a local tennis academy, in addition to Junior Team Tennis league play. Approximately 30 kindergarten children also receive weekly instruction for the entire school year.
“It is rewarding to see our middle school graduates move on to high school tennis and do very well,” says Tricia Kruse, MSP teacher and after-school tennis coordinator. “We know that they have developed strong skills, and we know we were able to turn them on to a life-long sport and that is very gratifying.”
Kruse has been instrumental in raising the profile of tennis and increasing junior tennis participation in the Pensacola area over the years. The Montessori School of Pensacola purchased the shuttered clubhouse of the Pensacola Racquet Club seven years ago for additional classroom space, and also four of the tennis courts.
“When we first bought the tennis courts, the property had been foreclosed on for five years and suffered through Hurricane Ivan,” Kruse said. “We did our best to bring the courts back to playable condition, but over the years the problems magnified to the point where we couldn’t play on them or rent them out to the public. The resurfacing job will allow us to plan instruction on four courts instead of just two and allow us to begin renting the courts and generating income to help cover the cost of resurfacing.”
Kruse’s additions at the school over the years has included integrating tennis into the physical education curriculum, hiring a USTPA certified head coach and aligning development with the Florida 10 and Under Youth Progression Pathway, developing a professional growth program for her coaches, designing and implementing long-range plans for facility improvements, and implementing a “Tiny Tots” program for 4 year olds.
The long-range plan to get all the tennis courts purchased from the former Pensacola Racquet Club back to playable condition.
“A goal of the grant is to provide communities access to safe, appealing and functional tennis environments, and we are happy to partner with the Montessori School of Pensacola to help achieve this goal in Pensacola,” said national USTA Senior Director of Market Development & Collegiate Tennis Virgil Christian. “The essence of this initiative is to assist communities, leveraging their tennis facilities to promote lifelong healthy activity, and to improve their programming by advancing the latest tennis innovations for all program types.”
For more info on USTA national tennis grants go to www.usta.com/en/home/organize/grants-and-assistance/national/about-usta-facility-assistance.html.