By Robert Hollis, USTA Florida Volunteer President
As this term for our current USTA Florida Board of Directors comes to an end, I would like to use this opportunity to share some of our many accomplishments over the past two years.
We started with four strategic priorities which we wanted to focus on during my term. Each board member was assigned to one of four project teams along with some staff members.
The creation of a Tennis Management Division was a top strategic priority. The Tennis Management Division is assisting city and county tennis facilities which are struggling to maintain quality programming and facilities. Frank Swope, a longtime Florida teaching professional, was hired last year to direct the Tennis Management Division. We have signed lease agreements with the Racquet Club of Cocoa Beach and the City of Fort Walton Beach, and are in negotiations with several other facilities seeking assistance.
Another strategic priority our project teams have been working on is creating a quality assurance program which will set standards to ensure consistency for our programming. A third project team is looking at our current product line to make sure we are serving the needs of our consumers.
The final strategic priority and one of the most important is volunteer engagement. As stated in past articles, we are a volunteer-based organization so we must continue to expand our base at the local levels. Our project teams have done much of the hard work on these priorities and continue to work on them.
Also noteworthy in the Florida Section was the hiring of a new executive director after longtime Executive Director Doug Booth announced his retirement last November. The Florida Board announced in March that Laura Bowen was hired to lead the organization. Laura has been the Section’s director of marketing, membership and communications for the past seven years. We feel Laura has the qualities and leadership skills to continue leading the USTA Florida Section into its most productive future.
Additional excitement came last November when the USTA Florida Section moved into its new offices in the Lake Nona area of Orlando. The new building was constructed next to the new USPTA National Headquarters and a stone’s throw from the USTA National Campus. Having these two neighbors next door will allow these three organizations to collaborate on the future of tennis. Please feel free to stop in and see our new home.
The USTA Florida Section Foundation also has a new Executive Director, Alexis Johnson, who was hired last year. The Foundation is our philanthropic arm of the organization. The “Play Tennis” license plate is one of the Foundation’s fundraising endeavors. As of now we are close to our goal of 4,000, for which we collect $100,000.
From 2010, the Foundation has awarded 738 grants worth over $1,267,000. Grants were given to schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, Special Olympics, adaptive programs and others just to name a few. Thank you to Alexis and her board for all of their great work. If you would like to contribute or get involved please feel free to contact the USTA Florida Foundation at www.ustafloridafoundation.com.
As my term comes to an end, I would like to personally thank the USTA Florida Board of Directors with whom I have had the pleasure to work for these past two years. I would also like to thank the incredible staff that runs the day-to-day operations of the Florida Section like clockwork. It has been an honor and privilege to serve with all of these wonderful people. Thank you for all you do for the USTA Florida Section.