USTA Florida today announced the expanded launch of its Community Coach program, where public parks across Florida can partner to deliver training, mentorship and employment to new and diverse tennis coaches. The Community Coach program was successfully piloted in the fall of 2021 at seven locations across the state. The program has been expanded to include more industry partners, additional locations, and now includes online modules for youth, adult, and team coaching.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that there is a dire shortage of tennis coaches in virtually every area of tennis,” said Dana Andrews, USTA Florida President. “This program leverages partnerships across our tennis eco-system to welcome in new coaches and give them the training and experience to deliver community programs at facilities across the state.”
Engaging new and diverse coaches has been a strategic priority for USTA Florida for several years now, and the organization fully recognizes the need to try different approaches in order to grow beyond the existing delivery system. The Community Coach program was driven by members of the USTA Florida Board of Directors who themselves are certified tennis professionals and directors of tennis at several public tennis centers across the state.
“We are building the farm system for tennis coaching in Florida,” said President-Elect Phil Girardi. “We need a bigger base of entry-level coaches in order to bring in more certified tennis professionals. Right now, we don’t have a large enough pool of new coaches.”
The Community Coach program is open to high school students, community residents, tennis players and others who have a passion for coaching community tennis. The education endeavor includes one or two days of training followed by up to ten weeks of paid, on-court program mentorship and experience at the facility. Hours spent training and on-court will be shared with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) for potential education credits.
USTA Florida is serving as the administrator of this program. The organization provides scheduling, project management and marketing support to the program, ensuring all coaches are Safe Play approved and received all resources available to them. Additionally, all of USTA Florida’s managed facilities are offering trainings directly. USPTA Florida has joined the program to help deliver trainings and engage in mentorship of the new coaches through its regional representatives.
“Facilities are asking for these trainings because they have open positions. We’re essentially functioning as a connector by bringing prospective coaches into these jobs and providing the training needed to perform in the position,” said Danielle Gooding, USTA Florida Director of Community Tennis. “As a section, we focus on growing programs, however, you can’t grow programs without enough people to run them. The service we’re now providing is a win-win for everyone.”
USTA Florida also has partnered with Racquet Sports U, an online education platform created by Jorge Capestany and supported by a number of tennis industry leaders. Capestany, who is a master professional with both USPTA and PTR, is widely regarded as a leader in online tennis drills. For this program, he has created a Florida-specific dashboard that delivers resources for teaching adult beginners, tennis camps, and middle/high school teams.
“We live in a digital world. By adding online training modules tailored to the needs of these new coaches, we are able to make coaching more accessible and available to every person who enters the community coach program,” said Chuck Gill, USTA Florida Director at Large.
For more information on USTA Florida’s Community Coach program and to register, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.