Do you remember the first time you touched a tennis racquet? What about when you first held a tennis ball in your hand? Or maybe one of your fondest memories is when you felt that initial spark for the first time – the one when you knew you had fallen in love with tennis?

Those are the types of moments that stick with a person throughout their lifetime. Those memories can be tied to childhood, friends, family… the possibilities are endless. For many, those memories were built with the help of a local tennis program in their community – programs that work hard to not only introduce the sport to newcomers but also strive to nurture a love for the game. But who supports those programs?

The USTA Florida Section Foundation, the giving arm of USTA Florida, is one organization working to give grassroots tennis programs the resources they need to impact and improve their communities through tennis. The Foundation’s mission is to “change lives through tennis” – but it’s not something that is inherently easy. Like tennis, philanthropy demands time and discipline. Since 2005, the Foundation has had a total community impact of more than $1,600,000. That’s $1.6 million in financial and equipment support that went towards adaptive programming, youth programming, community tennis programs in economically challenged areas, and building or restoring of quality public tennis facilities across the state. Most importantly, that money went directly toward growing the game many of us love.

However, it is not the Foundation itself that makes such programs happen. People like you do. These programs are run by people in communities around the state – not for money, but for love of the game and the people they serve. Those philanthropists are the engine pushing tennis forward, the Foundation only fuels them.

Now more than ever, the USTA Florida Section Foundation needs your support. One of the ways you can give back to your community programs is by purchasing a Play Tennis! license plate. Florida offers over 100 different specialty license plates for various organizations in support of the causes they represent, and the USTA Florida Section Foundation is one of them. Since the inception of the state’s specialty license plate program, millions of dollars have been raised for these organizations. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as of February 2020, 1.63 million specialty plates were registered in Florida.

Now is your chance to make a difference, and during this time of social distancing, you don’t even need to leave your home to do so. You can conveniently purchase your Play Tennis! license plate online here, and save $25 while doing so. 90% of each plate purchase goes directly toward supporting recreational grassroots tennis programs in under-served communities throughout Florida and aids in putting racquets in people’s hands and the love of a sport in their heart.

“Putting this license plate on a vehicle does more than just show off your love for tennis,” says Alexis Johnson, Executive Director of the USTA Florida Section Foundation. “It supports Florida-grown grassroots tennis programs for people of all ages and abilities and makes it possible for the Foundation to do what we do.”

Interested in the plate but not in your 90-day registration renewal window? You can purchase just the license plate itself and it will be mailed to you with your current registration sticker. For those needing a registration renewal, that option is also available. All orders are processed online through the Florida Department of Revenue and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Once processed, all new license plates will be issued and mailed by your local Florida County Tax Collector’s Office.

More than 3,600 people throughout Florida have chosen to make the switch to the Play Tennis! license plate. The revenue from the sale of the Play Tennis! tag is currently the greatest source of revenue for the USTA Florida Section Foundation. If it wasn’t for the license plate, the Foundation would not be able to fully support these grassroots community programs.

“Reaching our goal of 4,000 Play Tennis! license plates on the road would allow us to grant $90,000 annually to Florida grassroots tennis programs and communities just from the sale of the tag alone,” says Johnson.

Maybe you’re the average tennis fan or maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re not even a casual player. Maybe you just like to catch a match or two on television, or maybe you just have a passion for supporting programs in your neighborhood and helping children. Regardless of your ties to tennis, you can still give back.

“Every Play Tennis! license plate purchase helps make tennis accessible in your local communities and ultimately allows us to fulfill our mission of changing lives through tennis,” says Johnson. “Purchasing a plate gives children and adults the opportunity to learn life lessons on the court that will stick with them beyond the court. Together, we can bring smiles to their faces, introduce them to a new passion, and overall, we can make a difference.”

Are you already #Onein4000? We would love to hear your story about why you switched to the Play Tennis! license plate. If you are not yet a proud plate owner, message us to find out how you can join our ranks and help more people play tennis in Florida.

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