In 2022, USTA Florida has been working diligently to create play, volunteer, and coaching opportunities for everyone in the state. As an organization, there have been a couple of initiatives launched to help grow diversity in the sport and it saw a lot of success this year.
One of the largest was the Women in Tennis initiative, launched during Women’s History month. This three-phase initiative was created to improve the representation on women in the tennis industry as a whole. Inspire, represent, and recruit; these are the steps that USTA Florida has taken over the past nine months and we have seen more women in leadership roles, volunteering, and involved with the sport.
USTA Florida also partnered with Universal Tennis Rating and the University of North Florida to host an all-girls tennis camp. Over 30 girls attended for a day full of activities on and off the court. Guests in attendance to support these young women included former USTA Florida Board President Dana Andrews, Executive Director Laura Bowen, Tennis Service Representative Molly Zimmer, UNF Coach Catherine Dunagan, and more.
Throughout 2022, USTA Florida sat down with and shared the stories of many different ethnicities and cultures in the sport. The organization made it a point to give everyone a platform to speak and share their experiences with the world. These faces of Florida tennis talked about when they got involved with tennis, why it’s important to be welcoming to all, and how the tennis community is making strides toward equality for all.
The AMPLIFY initiative continued throughout 2022, after finding much success in the previous year. This year, USTA Florida, through AMPLIFY was able to host events including an XGLO Tennis night with the American Tennis Association, the second annual Juneteenth Slam, and help give Black players and providers in our Florida family better platform to grow in the sport.
USTA Florida is also committed to the adaptive space. USTA Florida hosted the 2022 Special Olympics Florida State Championships with over 200 athletes, 50 coaches, and 200 volunteers in attendance for the fun-filled event. The organization has also been heavily involved in growing wheelchair tennis. There are now Community Coach trainings catered to becoming a wheelchair tennis expert. To create more play opportunities, USTA Florida has become host to annual Roller Classic tournaments and is working toward offering more programming in the coming years.
Finally, USTA Florida selected 10 students from our National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters to represent the section on in the annual USTA NJTL Essay Contest. Two of them, Christian Valor and NyReon Shuman from Malivai Washington Kids Foundation, went on to become national winners and earned a trip to New York City!
While this was a great year for USTA Florida and growing the game for everyone, these are just the steppingstones, and in 2023 the organization is dedicated to creating more diversity in every aspect of the industry.