USTA Florida launched a new partnership with select public parks and recreational facilities across the state in September 2021, to pilot a new program aimed at training and employing new and diverse tennis coaches to deliver a broad range of community tennis programs.
“Engaging new and diverse coaches has been a strategic priority for USTA Florida for several years now,” said Laura Bowen, USTA Florida Executive Director. “We fully recognize that we have to try different approaches in order to grow beyond our existing delivery system. We have to open our doors to new people and provide them with the hands-on training needed to serve consumers of all backgrounds and abilities. This pilot program is a big step forward.”
A Physical Activity Council (PAC) report from early 2021 detailed a 26% increase in tennis participation across Florida in 2020. Despite the influx of players, USTA Florida identified that public tennis centers across the state continue to face challenges when trying to find coaches to deliver programming to the influx of new players. The Community Coach pilot program was created as a solution to this tennis coach shortage that many tennis facilities and providers are facing across the state.
“This program is different than what we’ve done in the past. It goes beyond just simple training,” said Frank Swope, Director of USTA Florida Tennis Management. “This program also connects initial training with on-the-job ‘real’ work, tailors the training to facility needs, and provides coaches with hands-on mentorship and a stipend during the training period. We’ll also track the hours and progress of each program participant and will receive direct feedback from each facility involved.”
The Community Coach pilot program was available at seven locations this past fall:
- Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center
- Lake Cane Tennis Center
- Palm Beach Gardens Tennis & Pickleball Center
- Play Tennis Gainesville
- Racquet Club of Cocoa Beach
- Treasure Bay Tennis Center
- Wellington Tennis Center
The USTA Florida Community Coach pilot program is open to high school students, community residents, tennis players and others who have a passion for coaching community tennis. The new education endeavor will include one or two days of training, followed by up to ten weeks of paid, on-court program mentorship and experience at the facility. Hours spent training and on-court will be shared with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) for potential education credits.
For more information about the Community Coach Pilot Program, and to apply, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.