February 4th, 2015

USTA Florida Shows Its Love for Tennis With Valentine’s Day Community Workshop


REACH OUT: USTA Florida Community Outreach Committee Chair Deb Anderson

Valentine’s Day is the day of love throughout the land, and this Valentine’s Day in southeast Florida will be no exception as USTA Florida brings its Community Tennis Workshop to Ft. Lauderdale for those who love the sport where each game starts at love/love.

The daylong program, to be held from 9 AM to 3:30 PM at the Ft. Lauderdale Marriott North, at 6650 N. Andrews Avenue, is the third to be held: Successful events in Sarasota and Gainesville drew crowds of about 80 tennis lovers. According to USTA Florida Community Outreach Committee Chair Deb Anderson, the program is “the USTA’s way of bringing itself to local areas.”

Executives of the Sunshine State’s USTA staff, local tennis leaders, as well as expert volunteers, will lead general sessions, and a variety of breakout programs will address different methods of building tennis popularity.

The contact person for the daylong seminar is Janet Sprague (561-385-7399), Sprague@florida.usta.com, or you can register online at USTAFlorida.com/Community. The cost for the event is only $10 for USTA members, $20 for non-members through January 31 ($10 extra afterwards), and includes lunch and a ticket that night to the Delray Beach Open by the Venetian Las Vegas.

Breakthroughs through breakout sessions

After USTA Florida’s new President Nancy Horowitz and Deb Anderson welcome participants, there will be an opening general session on “Partnering with Municipalities for a Winning Team.” Moderated by Barbara Manzo, former VP for the USTA Florida and the retired Director of Parks and Recreation for Lee County, this meeting will teach attendees how tennis programs can be funded by grants, and held in parks and recreation centers through the support of city and county governments.

Participants will then choose between two different breakout sessions: “Creating Sustainable Community Tennis Programs” and “Adult Recreational Tennis: Making it Fun for all Ages.” The former, led by Laura Schuppert, the Director of Recreation for Palm Beach Gardens, will focus on how to make tennis facilities profitable through innovative strategies that stimulate local tennis participation. The latter, hosted by USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland, will highlight Tennis on Campus intramural recreation programs for college kids, as well as the flexible game of Masters Tennis, for much older folks, whose aching and aging bodies might offer mobility challenges. Masters Tennis is played on a smaller court — 18 feet shorter — with a slower ball and, if desired, a lighter racket.

After lunch, a second general session, “Best Practices in Digital Marketing,” run by USTA Director of Marketing and Membership Laura Bowen, will bring the Internet to the game where a net separates opposing courts. The use of social media to grow social and competitive tennis will also be examined.

After a break, a second round of breakout sessions is available. These will focus on “Adult Competitive Tennis: Recruiting, Retaining and Getting Former Players Back,” and “Growing Junior Tennis through Play Opportunities.” The former, anchored by Jim Tierney, the City of Boca Raton’s Tennis Center Administrator, will explore experimental play formats that inspire players to return to tennis, as well as show how to successfully welcome new members to tennis programs.

The latter breakout, hosted by Susan Allhouse, a leader in the On Court Teaching Tennis in the Park Program for Palm Beach County, will discuss, among other things, the fun game of ROGY for small kids, which is played with smaller courts and brightly colored balls for different age groups. It also features more play days, after-school tennis programs, and less-pressured ways of competing.

A closing session, coordinated by Deb Anderson, will be a roundtable discussion, which will feature a Q&A session and a summary of the day’s events. The day will also honor a local Champion of Tennis, an individual or individuals who make an enormous difference in the local tennis community.