USTA Florida is proud to announce a new partnership with select public parks and recreational facilities across the state to pilot a new program aimed at training and employing new and diverse tennis coaches to deliver a broad range of community tennis programs.
“Engaging new and diverse coaches has been a strategic priority for USTA Florida for several years now,” said Laura Bowen, USTA Florida Executive Director. “We fully recognize that we have to try different approaches in order to grow beyond our existing delivery system. We have to open our doors to new people and provide them with the hands-on training needed to serve consumers of all backgrounds and abilities. This pilot program is a big step forward.”
Tennis experienced a surge in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Physical Activity Council (PAC) report from earlier this year detailed a 26% increase in tennis participation across Florida in 2020 – 4% higher than the total rise across the U.S. last year. Despite the positive growth trend amongst players, USTA Florida identified that public tennis centers across the state continue to face challenges when trying to find coaches to deliver programming to the influx of new players.
“As the pandemic continued, tennis started booming,” shared Phil Girardi, 2021-2022 USTA Florida President-elect and Director of Tennis for the City of Treasure Island at Treasure Bay. “More people started getting out on the courts as tennis became the sport to play, but it was very hard to try and find people to be entry-level coaches.”
The Community Coach pilot program was created as a solution to this tennis coach shortage that many tennis facilities and providers are facing across the state. The program offers assistance to the Florida tennis community by training future tennis coaches in order to fill the need.
“This program is different than what we’ve done in the past. It goes beyond just simple training,” said Frank Swope, Director of USTA Florida Tennis Management. “This program also connects initial training with on-the-job ‘real’ work, tailors the training to facility needs, and provides coaches with hands-on mentorship and a stipend during the training period. We’ll also track the hours and progress of each program participant and will receive direct feedback from each facility involved. Overall, this program won’t just benefit the facilities and coaches – it will also benefit the tennis consumers in their communities.”
The USTA Florida Community Coach pilot program is open to high school students, community residents, tennis players and others who have a passion for coaching community tennis. The new education endeavor will include 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. The program will be available at seven locations beginning this fall:
- Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center
- Lake Cane Tennis Center
- Palm Beach Gardens Tennis & Pickleball Center
- Play Tennis Gainesville
- Racquet Club of Cocoa Beach
- Treasure Bay Tennis Center
- Wellington Tennis Center
For more information about the Community Coach Pilot Program, and to apply, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.