By Dana Andrews, USTA Florida President
It seemed like it was just a short time ago when we embarked on the 2020-21 USTA Florida Strategic Priorities. So many initiatives and programs have been established this year that are growing the game and frankly, no one is hitting “pause” to sit back on their accomplishments thus far, as we’re running on all cylinders moving into 2022.
As you are likely aware, our mission statement is “To Promote and Develop Tennis for All”. Our four strategic priorities flow from that statement and have key words in common directing the organization how best to accomplish our mission: NEW players, providers, volunteers; DIVERSE players, providers, volunteers; SUPPORT services for players, providers, volunteers. All aspects of the organization – volunteers, providers, and staff – are working in tandem to best serve players; whether it be an adult beginner program, adaptive play, or through the #AMPLIFY Initiative.
Below is just a sample of what USTA Florida has been up to the past year, and I truly hope it inspires you to get involved as a volunteer.
- The 2021 Special Olympics Florida State Tennis Championships went forward with COVID protocols, with an amazing 189 athletes from across the state.
- #AMPLIFY has built partnerships with the American Tennis Association, 100 Black Men, and the Black Chamber of Commerce. Through these partnerships, we have an opportunity to introduce tennis to diverse participants.
- USTA Florida hosted the Team Roller Classic, our first wheelchair event with 16 athletes of all levels.
- Our Love to Learn/Love to Play programs have grown tremendously throughout the state.
- Leagues and junior tournaments continue to utilize a Virtual Tournament Desk to improve communication and promote safety for all. Attendance at League and Junior events returned to pre-pandemic participation.
- The USTA Florida Foundation formed major partnerships over the last several months, that will only enhance the giving back to the community mission of the foundation. Partnerships with WAIT C’s Paramore Partnership, Bobby Curtis Memorial Fund, and Darrel Stewart Tennis Fund were renewed or initiated this year. The Foundation also distributed athletic wear across the state in partnership with Eleven by Venus Williams and Lucky in Love. Don’t forget to purchase your Play Tennis! license tag!
- USTA Florida launched the Community Coach Pilot Program aimed at training and employing new and diverse coaches to deliver our broad range of community tennis programs.
Do you feel like you just played a 3-set match, 7-6 in the third after reading about all this activity? Well, we’re just getting started. The opportunity I’ve had to serve this organization over the last year has been an amazingly positive experience. Certainly, there have been challenges along the way, but I have been blessed with engaging, hardworking, and creative volunteers, providers and staff.
As I shared with you all at the beginning of this journey, when my Dad (BA Grubbs) reflected on his volunteer time with USTA Florida he told me “my hours I put in were secondary to the enjoyment I got out of it.” I am so happy to say I can adopt that quote as my own. We are ready to “serve up” 2022!