USTA Florida held its 72nd Annual Meeting of the Membership on Saturday afternoon, with more than 50 participants logging in virtually to assess the state of the association and chart a course for future growth.
USTA Florida’s Bylaws Committee recommended three updates to the existing bylaws to clarify how business is conducted in a virtual environment. The changes pertain to hosting meetings, conducting nominations virtually, verifying electronic voting results, and removing the term “facsimile” from the bylaws. The changes passed unanimously and are available here for review.
“The world has changed dramatically in the last two years. USTA Florida also must evolve. Our ability to hold meetings using any means of communications is critical to engaging with our members and delegates on important business matters,” said Laura Bowen, USTA Florida Executive Director.
USTA Florida President Dana Andrews emphasized the organization’s clear focus on growing the game and bringing in new people. She spoke on each of the four key strategic priorities and noted the common theme underpinning all of USTA Florida’s work: reaching new and diverse participants, engaging new volunteers and coaches, and serving public parks.
“Despite the pandemic, we never stopped; we didn’t even slow down,” Andrews said. “When you look at the work we are doing in each of these areas, there is no question that we are truly promoting tennis for ALL.”
President Andrews thanked the volunteers and providers on the call for their hard work during the past year. She highlighted the need to welcome new volunteer leaders into the organization. She referenced the new 2022 Leadership Academy class and encouraged everyone on the call to consider applying for a committee or board positions when applications open in 2022.
“My dad [former USTA Florida President B.A. Grubbs] would always tell me that the time he put into the organization paled in comparison to the joy he received in return,” Andrews said. “All you need to lead this organization is a servant’s heart.”
Treasurer Marcelo Gouts reported on the organization’s financial condition. He noted that high levels of program participation and solid facility performance have led to stable cash flow. Due to prudent reductions in spending, the USTA Florida was able to grow its reserves, thanks to a bull market and solid investment policies the last two years.
“As we head into 2022, the organization is in an excellent financial position to invest in grassroots tennis programs and grow the game,” Gouts said.
In her Executive Director’s Report, Bowen highlighted the performance of key programs, facilities and projects in 2021. USTA Florida adult leagues and junior tournaments have returned to pre-pandemic highs in unique participation in 2021. Junior Team Tennis and wheelchair participation are also bright spots, with participation in November sitting at just under pre-pandemic levels. Bowen credited the recovery of these programs to the robust demand for tennis play and additional resources devoted to delivering additional play opportunities.
“As a direct result of consumer demand, we expanded team tennis into additional counties this fall. I expect growth to continue are kids are looking for more opportunities to play in a team environment with their friends. Socialization is key right now,” she said.
In both of their reports, Andrews and Bowen made strong commitments to expanding the organization’s successful AMPLIFY initiative, Community Coach Pilot Program, VolunteerAces and public park support services.
USTA Florida has invested more than $2 million into public tennis facilities, since starting its tennis management arm in 2018. Bowen noted that facility operations in the aggregate are now financially net neutral while providing a wide range of community-based programs and key learnings on how USTA Florida can better support all public parks.
For more information on USTA Florida’s strategic priorities and how we are #LeadingtheGame, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com.