USTA Florida’s Board of Directors, led by President Dana Andrews, welcomed one new member this November and will continue to pursue four key strategic priorities to grow the game in the post-COVID-19 world.
Of the nine total board members, more than half are current or former tennis-teaching professionals, highlighting the importance of collaboration with tennis providers on all initiatives. Four USTA Florida board members are female, and one-third of the board represents non-white demographic populations.
Andrews, who is an attorney, becomes the first daughter of a former USTA Florida President to hold the office. She most recently served the organization as President-Elect, Chair of the USTA Florida Grievance committee, and served on the USTA Florida Section Foundation Board the past two terms. Her father, B.A. Grubbs, served as President of the Florida Tennis Association in 1984-85. He is a member of the USTA Florida Hall of Fame and plays tennis in Jacksonville.
Clark Higgs, who served as 2019-2020 President, will become Immediate Past President and Delegate. Higgs, a former banker, has been volunteering at the section for more than 15 years. He is a certified tennis official and an active USTA League player. During the new term, Higgs will also serve as Chair of the new Investment and Audit Committee.
Phil Girardi, who is Director of Tennis at Treasure Bay and a college coach, will serve as 2021-2022 President-Elect. Girardi most recently served as USTA Florida Treasurer and has been volunteering at the section for 15 years, with a special interest in Junior Team Tennis and collegiate programs and play.
Marcelo Gouts, who has been managing public tennis parks and volunteering in Florida for 30 years, will serve as Treasurer in the 2021-2022 term. Gouts previously served as Secretary and was instrumental in the organization’s Hispanic Outreach Initiative (Tenis Para Todos). He is a vocal advocate for growing tennis in central Florida.
Adam Ross, who joined the Board as a Director at Large in 2019, will serve as Secretary in the new term. Ross is an attorney, an avid tennis fan and player, and has served for a number of years on various section committees.
Rounding out the slate are three returning Directors at Large and one new Director.
Chuck Gill is returning as Director at Large. He is currently the Director of Sports at Ibis Country Club. Gill is a past president of USPTA Florida, USPTA (national), and most recently served as a member of the USTA Board of Directors. He will also Chair USTA Florida’s Tennis Management Advisory Team.
Rita Dotson also is returning for a second term on the USTA Florida Board of Directors. She is Director of Junior Tennis at Roger Scott Tennis Center and the Founder and President of Tennis-4-Everyone, Inc. She has been involved in Special Olympics and Junior Team Tennis for several years.
Delise O’Meally also returns to the USTA Florida Board of Directors for a second term. She is the Executive Director for the Institute for Sport and Social Justice and the Secretary General for the US International University Sport Federation. She also is an avid tennis parent.
Mary Conaway, who previously served as a member of the USTA Florida Foundation Board of Directors and Foundation Nominating Committee, joins the section board as a Director at Large this term. Mary has a background in leadership development and helped to bring the USTA Florida Leadership Academy to life in 2019.
Finally, long-time volunteer Robert Hollis leaves the USTA Florida Board this November, after serving most recently as Delegate and Immediate Past President. Hollis has been involved with Florida tennis for more than 40 years as a provider, coach and volunteer. He will remain involved in USTA Florida’s tennis management division, as a key member of that advisory team.
For the upcoming term, the Board of Directors took a close look at the organization’s long-term strategic plan, in light of the current challenges and opportunities created by COVID-19. They made some important adjustments to expand on existing growth strategies and leverage partnerships and technology to improve outreach and support.
The top priority remains reaching new and diverse participants, focusing specifically on adult beginners and other new audiences. USTA Florida’s Love to Learn/Love to Play program accounted for significant growth in adult play across the state in 2019. Combined with family play and after-school initiatives, the group expects even more players to gravitate to the sport in a post-COVID-19 environment.
The second priority is to expand and diversify the organization’s volunteer base. USTA Florida launched its inaugural Leadership Academy in 2019, leading to many new faces and voices on committees and project teams this term. Additionally, the group hopes to leverage the new Volunteer Aces program to connect with more diverse volunteers locally, which can help expand outreach and play to all demographics. Working with local volunteers to introduce tennis is a hallmark of the organization’s history and will continue to play an important role in future success.
The third strategic focus area is to leverage USTA Florida’s ongoing partnership with USPTA Florida to develop and implement digital education and training for Florida tennis providers. Both organizations have already done significant work together to improve training and educational offerings. They recognize the need to offer more online opportunities for training in the post-COVID-19 environment.
The fourth priority for USTA Florida is to leverage the organization’s now three-year-old Tennis Management Division to provide a full range of support services to public parks across the state. USTA Florida currently partners with three municipalities to directly manage their public tennis centers. These partnerships have helped the group develop training, education, sample RFPs, financial models and other support services that can help cities grow tennis at their facilities. An Advisory Team, led by Board member Chuck Gill, will continue to provide direction and guidance on how USTA Florida can expand support and tennis advocacy services in the public sector.
For more information on USTA Florida’s strategic priorities and to contact our board members and staff, visit www.USTAFlorida.com/about-us/board-of-directors.