USTA Mid Atlantic Award Crystal

The Three “I”s in Tennis

How do you spell tennis?

T-E-N-N-I-S. Absolutely correct!

How many of you might say there are three “i”s in tennis? Probably not many, but I am here to tell you there are.

As the Executive Director for USTA Mid-Atlantic I am moved by the passion people find in tennis. I visit the tennis courts in our Section and attend events, and as I look around I see people of every age, size, color and type playing their hearts out and having fun. Tennis truly embodies what it means to be life-long – something you can play as a child, teen, young adult and into your golden years. And oh by the way, you can get started at any age too!

Our goal, our mission is to get more people to experience what tennis is all about; play, have fun and feel the passion and benefits that result. Specifically it is to promote and develop the growth of tennis and we couldn’t be more proud to do that. In my role, I am always looking for ways we can get more people to find themselves in the game. I look strategically at what we are doing as a Section to achieve this and to keep us focused, we created a three-year plan that is aimed at serving the mission and actively tracking our goals.

Interestingly, as a result of creating the strategic plan, we saw the three “i”s: inclusion, innovation, and impact bubble up to the surface.

Inclusion – tennis is a game for any and every one. And our work strives to embrace that across all program areas of focus. We are working to create an inclusive and diverse tennis community through programs and services that attract all people to the game. Not only that, we hope to inspire the entire Mid-Atlantic tennis community to embrace and support an environment of inclusion.

Innovation – no longer can you just keep doing the same things and expect the same results. Innovation and disruption to the norms are essential for keeping tennis viable. Every day we push ourselves to try new things and get creative to reach our goals. This mentality has brought forth some of our most interesting (and fun) opportunities and programs to attract more people to tennis. Check out our Yo Pro program and youth progression for starters. We are striving for innovation when it comes to growing tennis and in how we provide the game itself.

Impact – above all we want to make a difference in a measurable way. We want to have positive outcomes on individuals, young and old, on communities and on tennis in the Mid-Atlantic. We are all about hard-hitting measurable results that show improved quality and increase in participation.

These three words are referenced and inferred throughout the strategic plan and when we took a step back, they stood out prominently.

While the three “i”s make a lot of sense to us here at the Section office, we know we aren’t alone embracing these principles.  We know that so many of you in our tennis community are living the three “i”s every day. In fact, in 2015 we wanted to honor the work of individuals and organizations going above and beyond to grow tennis and modeled our 2015 Section Awards in three new categories.

The Inclusion Award for advancing the commitment to tennis in every community recognizes those that went above and beyond to make our sport welcoming. The Innovation Award for embracing change as a strategy to grow tennis recognizes those that are proactive in trying new and different ideas and who attracted or retained players by introducing unique offerings. And the Impact Award for hard-hitting influence on the growth of tennis to those that grew tennis across the board and used tennis to make a positive difference in the community.

We had an impressive inaugural class of award winners – you can check out these videos to hear their inspiring stories.

In 2016, we continued with the three “i”s for the 2016 Section Awards. We received strong nominations and are excited to announce this year’s winners and tell their stories during the 2016 Conference & Awards on Saturday, November 12 at the Bethesda Marriott. I hope you can join us to learn about the 2016 award winners and get a sense of the three “i”s for yourself.

Tennis is the greatest sport around and when we put the three “i”s in tennis we’ll be well on our way to reaching our goals and having more and more people benefit from our great game.

Now that you know about the three “i”s, in what ways can you embrace them both on and off the court? I challenge you to think about that and share your stories with us through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (ustamas).  Or contact us through the blog and let us know what you think.


Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, is the executive director for USTA Mid-Atlantic.