by Jeanne Ford, USTA Florida director of marketing, membership & sponsorships
A new year is bringing new tennis events and new ways to support the USTA Florida Section Foundation, giving Florida players of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play the great game of tennis.
You’ll never see another tennis event quite like the USTA Florida Blacklight Overnight Adult Team Event. The glow-in-the-dark spectacular offers a cool $1,000 to the winning team, and will be played Feb. 9-10 in Naples. And yes, overnight is in the event title because teams will start at 6 p.m. and play all night long under the black lights, rotating on and off the courts against other teams. Featuring an opening celebration, midnight snacks, a cash bar, and when the champion team is crowned in the early-morning hours — it’s breakfast for everyone!
The format for the event levels the match, giving every team a chance to win. Players get one serve, and lets will be played to keep it fun and fast-paced. With 4-6 players to a team, sleep will be the biggest opponent of some teams, but rockin’ music will keep the energy level up all night. USTA membership is not required for this event.
For more info go to www.ustaflorida.com/blacklightovernight.
Another new venture is running (or walking) to support grassroots tennis.
The USTA Florida Section Foundation, the grant-giving arm of USTA Florida, has teamed with Victory Sports Management for a series of six 5K Run to Rally races where individuals, families or entire organizations, can sign-up to walk/run and fundraise for grassroots tennis in Florida. You can be part of the mission of changing lives through tennis in your community for your family, friends and neighbors.
Races will be held this year in Naples (Feb. 2), Ft. Lauderdale (March 9), Orlando (April 13), Jacksonville (Oct. 5), Tampa (Nov. 2), and Miami (Dec. 7). It’s a great event for the entire family, and each participant will receive a race bib, a race medal, and a personalized race certificate upon completion of the race.
You can support the USTA Florida Section Foundation and the approximately $1,300,000 they’ve given out in grants since 2010 to support schools, public parks, adaptive programs connected to organizations such as Special Olympics Florida, Buddy Up, ACEing Autism and Love Serving Autism, and many more.
“I started playing tennis in fifth grade after attending an after-school program funded by the USTA Florida Section Foundation.” says Keonna Perry, a participant in the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association’s Aces in Motion program in Gainesville. “I continued to play in middle school where my coaches told me that they are here to make me a better tennis player but, more importantly, a better person. They not only coached tennis but they also encouraged me to focus on achieving my dream of becoming an athletic trainer.”
Whether for fun or charity, step out of your comfort zone in 2019. Introduce a child or a friend to tennis at one of the USTA Florida special events such as blacklight tennis, or get your running (or walking) shoes on and participate in a 5K to support the USTA Florida Section Foundation. Either way you’ll be putting racquets into the hands of players who might not otherwise get a chance to experience the “game of a lifetime.”
For more info go to www.ustafloridafoundation.com/upcoming-events.