Community Meet & Greet on Sept. 6, Grand Re-Opening on Oct. 13

Fort Walton Beach is about to sail into a brave new world for tennis and families as USTA Florida prepares to revitalize and reopen the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center this October.  With a dynamic new head tennis professional and fresh new programs, Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center is expected to become a fun, vibrant port for tennis in the panhandle.

“Ft. Walton Beach is the reason USTA Florida created our tennis management division,” said Frank Swope, director of tennis management at USTA Florida. “We have been working for almost two years with the City of Fort Walton Beach to make this partnership a reality.  We are excited to meet the residents and welcome them in.”

Jeff Peters is the recreation director for the City of Fort Walton Beach.

“The City of Fort Walton Beach is extremely excited about the future of the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center,” Peters says. “The partnership with USTA Florida is something that we’ve been working on and are proud and anxious to have their presence in our city. The tennis community is in for a big treat!”

USTA Florida will host a community Meet & Greet on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Fort Walton Beach Recreation Center at 132 Jet Dr. NW.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend and enjoy some refreshments.  Residents will have the chance to learn more about USTA Florida’s plans for the tennis center, meet new Head Pro William McClelland, and engage with other USTA Florida staff who will be supporting the facility and the community. 

McClelland has strong roots in the area.  A graduate of University of West Florida, he previously worked as assistant tennis director at the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center.  More recently, he owned and operated the McClelland Tennis Academy in Pensacola, where he earned a stellar reputation for attracting new youth and adult participants to the sport. 

“The bar is high for our tennis facilities, and William is a great addition to lead Fort Walton Beach’s tennis resurgence” said Swope. “We hire the best tennis professionals in the business, and train them to deliver programs the right way to serve every member of this vibrant and unique community.”

Immediately following the Meet & Greet, USTA Florida will begin preparing the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center for its Grand Re-Opening Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 (noon start, 11:30 a.m. check-in).  The Festival will include free food and beverages, a tennis exhibition, face painting, caricaturist, photo booth, and tennis play opportunities for families, youth, adults and seniors.

The facility also will receive an entirely new digital presence, including a new web site,, where residents can book courts, sign up for programs, and register for special events. Social media channels will enable players of all ages to connect with each other and share their experiences both on and off the courts. 

Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center is the second facility managed by the USTA Florida Tennis Management Division, which was established in 2017 to partner with municipalities that need help running a quality tennis facility.  The agreement between the City of Fort Walton Beach and USTA Florida provides the non-profit with the opportunity to run all tennis operations at the facility for the next two years, with the option to extend for additional terms.

The USTA Florida Board of Directors in 2017 unanimously approved the creation of a new Tennis Management Division to save public tennis facilities in fatal disrepair or in danger of closure. USTA Florida Tennis Management delivers high-quality tennis programs, teaching pros and management, utilizing USTA networks and partnerships to ensure tennis grows in local communities for all ages and demographics. USTA Florida Tennis Management is raising the standards for tennis programming and facility management across the state of Florida. For more information go to