By Doug Booth, USTA Florida Executive Director
Lake Nona in January 2017 will officially become the “New Home of American Tennis.”
For Florida tennis, the USTA National Campus and the other new sports entities in Lake Nona’s Sports & Performance District will create a marriage of professional and community tennis that will generate great momentum for the sport in the coming years.
And when you visit it as a league or tournament tennis player, or in another capacity, I guarantee you will be nothing short of amazed.
Our new USTA Florida Section headquarters building in Lake Nona will be completed in the spring of 2017, and we will be joining a sports community devoted to not only growing the game, but using the latest advancements in technology, education and sports research to do it.
The Tavistock Group has developed the Lake Nona community into an innovation hub centered around clusters of excellence, including sports and performance, health and wellness and technology that will all benefit from one another. It reminds me of the days when the USTA had their Education and Research Center in Princeton, N.J., directed by the legendary Eve Kraft, which the USTA honors to this day with an annual award for community tennis service. It was the forward-thinking research coming out of that center in the 1970s that brought tennis, then almost solely played in country clubs and colleges, out into the communities and public parks, and into K-12 schools.
That forward thinking continues today with the introduction of 10 and Under Tennis, which provides children with kids’-sized racquets, nets, courts, and lower-bouncing balls in recreation and league play, and also in elementary and middle schools. In Florida we promote school tennis with programming, resources, and grants through the USTA Florida Section Foundation to help cash-strapped K-12 schools with tennis equipment, and to get kids playing in after-school programs.
USTA Florida and USTA national staff are working together to implement the revised Junior Team Tennis league, the Tenis para Todos (Tennis for Everyone) initiative, U40 leagues, LGBT leagues and events, new one-day tournaments, and other forward-thinking initiatives. The USTA is rolling out the exciting USTA University (USTAU), which makes it easier than ever to pursue a career in tennis. USTAU will prepare the next generation of tennis providers, and four other universities across the country are also providing the program as a major study.
At the USTA National Campus we have already scheduled more than 18 of our largest USTA Florida League adult sectionals and junior events, so more than 8,000 players will be able to experience the incredible facility. Moving our headquarters to the Lake Nona Sports & Performance District will better position us to partner and grow tennis. We will be able to test new ideas and replicate best practices for growing tennis in communities across the state. Both community tennis providers and USTA Florida tennis-playing members will benefit directly from this move.
We have been referred to as a leader in innovation among the USTA’s 17 sections, and USTA Florida was last year named the USTA Section of the Year by Tennis Industry magazine. We want to take that even farther beginning in 2017.
Vice President of Sports Ventures for the Tavistock Development Company Andy Odenbach said, “With the arrival of USTA Florida to our Sports & Performance District, Lake Nona brings unprecedented tennis resources and opportunities to USTA’s most innovative section. USTA Florida has a track record of delivering an exceptional tournament experience for their members and competitors, and Lake Nona is thrilled to be welcoming them to Orlando permanently.”
We’re looking forward to joining the Lake Nona community, and to our new technologically-driven office space which will serve as the connecting point for our mission of growing adult and youth recreational tennis across the state. In partnership with the USTA National Campus, Lake Nona’s Sports & Performance District and other sports entities, tennis in Florida will enter a new era of growth in 2017 fueled by partnerships and cutting-edge technology. It is going to be a good time to be a tennis provider or tennis player in Florida.
To learn more about USTA Florida and our move to the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona go to www.ustaflorida.com.