Rising Up for Parks and Recreation

July marks the celebration of Parks and Recreation Month and recognizes how integral of a role public parks play in our own communities. For many individuals, public parks are places for special experiences and making memories to last a lifetime. They are often gathering places for all ages to get involved in nature, celebrate special events, and take on many new adventures and sports like tennis

Having access to parks and recreation is a vital part of an active, thriving community. Many people pick up their tennis racquets for the first time on public tennis courts and subsequently fall in love with the sport. Tennis courts in public parks are spaces that welcome any age, ability, background, and income level to the game of tennis. It is where fun tennis experiences happen, from casual hitting around with friends and family, tennis lessons, camps, USTA League matches, tournaments and more, public parks in the Mid-Atlantic Section are where it is at for tennis! In fact, the 2022 Tennis Participation Survey Summary Report created by the Tennis Industry Association reported that 41% of all tennis participants in the Mid-Atlantic play tennis on courts in public parks.

In addition, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is shining light on how parks and recreation professionals have become public health leaders. “They have expanded programming and worked to fill gaps in access to physical activity, healthy food, chronic disease prevention and management, and social connections, as well as support academic and cultural enrichment opportunities,” said the NRPA. 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic we believe that tennis should be accessible to all in every community and public parks play a vital role in making this vision come true. We have compiled a few tips on how you can celebrate parks and recreation month and #RiseUpJuly for tennis in your own community so future tennis players prosper for years to come! 

Tip #1 Organize a public park tennis court clean up day

Cleaning up your own community can be fun and easy! Tennis courts can get pretty dirty quickly especially due to the outdoor elements. A blower and a broom can get the job done efficiently making an old court look brand new again! Contact your public park and work with them to organize the tennis court clean up day. There may be certain steps you will have to take and talking with your local parks and recreation department should be the first one. Once you are ready to go, they say teamwork makes the dream work so gather your own team made up of friends, tennis teammates,  neighbors, and/or even your family can get the job done. Giving your local park tennis courts some TLC is one of the best ways to get out there and help restore your own community park tennis courts.

By spreading the word, this can become an even bigger community event bringing together people from all backgrounds creating new social connections in your own backyard. You can also spark interest for others to try tennis when they see a beautiful, spruced up court to play on! 

Tip #2 Spread the word about the USTA Mid-Atlantic Facility Restoration Grant 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic we believe tennis creates community, character, and well-being. Having high-quality, well-maintained places to play tennis can improve community well-being and provide access to the benefits of tennis among communities that are underserved. We hope to be a helping hand in fostering social connections and uplifting communities by creating a fun environment and place in every community where all are welcome to thrive with tennis. 

Through the Facility Restoration Grant, USTA Mid-Atlantic provides up to $10,000 for tennis court construction and refurbishment. Public tennis courts, especially those in parks, schools, and communities are typically the first place where people are seeking the sport. While the application period is closed for this year, we offer the Facility Restoration Grant every year so make sure you’re on the lookout for when the application reopens! Make sure to tell your local park and recreation department about the grant and encourage them to apply. These grants would not be possible without the support from individuals like you donating and showing support for USTA Mid-Atlantic –  a non-profit organization. 

Tip #3 Organize your own tennis meetup or tennis social

There are many people who want to get involved with tennis but don’t know where to start or who to contact. All it takes is a few tennis enthusiasts to help grow the sport in your own community! You can organize a tennis meetup among the community to encourage people interested in playing to meet other tennis players, find other interested players, and get to know any community tennis associations, providers, or organizers.  Now this may sound like a daunting task but there are many resources available for you to be successful! Contact your local Parks and Recreation Department and discuss your idea for a tennis meetup or tennis social with them. Once you are ready to move forward, see if you can post a local event listing on their website. You can also ask if you can hang up your own posters at the local park so more people can spread the word. 

Looking for more ways to grow the game of tennis? There are many ways you can get involved and leave a lasting impact. Make sure you continue to celebrate and #RiseUpJuly for your local Parks and Recreation Departments by showing your appreciation in any way you can! 

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and TwitterUSTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

Tackling Tennis Access

In 2017, the Aspen Institute selected Baltimore as the first city to implement a model initiative to identify and facilitate opportunities for a variety of leaders and stakeholders to come together and grow the quality and quantity of youth sport opportunities. Project Play Baltimore was a three-year collective impact initiative, and at the onset a draft report was published indicating the lack in activities and activity level for youth in the city. Only 26% of males and 16% of females met the CDC’s recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. 

In the years following the initiative, significant progress has been made. Earlier this year, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced a $120 million vision for the city’s recreation and parks acknowledging the critical and vital role recreation plays in the well-being of residents, especially youth. 

Likewise, USTA Mid-Atlantic – a nonprofit organization – recognizes the significance and importance of ensuring access to tennis and the life-long benefits the sport provides. We envision a community where tennis is accessible and available for all people to play, especially youth who can benefit exponentially from the sport. We rely on the generosity and support of our community that helps us take on and tackle challenges – from increasing physical activity to addressing equity and access to tennis and more. 

Seeing the opportunity to make a significant impact and acknowledging Baltimore’s rich and deeply rooted tennis history, USTA Mid-Atlantic is taking a leadership role to bring tennis to more youth in the city of Baltimore (and in the County) and support the overarching vision for a healthier community and equity for recreation and youth sports. 

Thanks to support from the Ravens Foundation, Inc., through a Ravens PLAY 60 Grant, USTA Mid-Atlantic began implementing free and low-cost introductory tennis programs using the USTA Team Challenge format in Baltimore, primarily in Druid Hill Park and Patterson Park this spring, along with sessions not too far outside the city in Baltimore County. Additional funding from the Kahlert Foundation to the Section supported USTA Mid-Atlantic’s implementation of a new pilot tennis program called Girls Rule the Court™ offered in the city of Baltimore. 

Both tennis programs in Baltimore that USTA Mid-Atlantic offers are introductory, giving youth the chance to learn the fundamentals of tennis in a fun, low-pressure environment. All equipment is provided and use of public park tennis courts help make it easy and convenient to participate. 

Not only that, Baltimore youth gain increased physical activity levels and both programs are rooted in a positive youth development experience that facilitates social emotional learning (SEL) and supports an overall healthy well-being for young people.  

Developing SEL skills such as building confidence, character development, and creating meaningful peer connections is a key component in both programs. USTA Mid-Atlantic partnered with Hello Insight to measure SEL among participants of the programs. On average, participants reported a 84% satisfaction rate through the Hello Insight participation surveys. In addition through post surveys, “87% of participants also reported that they were able to positively share and listen to each other during the program, positively impacting their interpersonal relationships and communication skills.” Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development for USTA Mid-Atlantic reflected on the feedback received thus far from program participants, “This information enables us to grow the program in impactful ways and improve the overall experience for all participants in real time, thereby ensuring each young person is finding their unique path to thrive,” she said. 

The spring sessions concluded with 37 participants among both tennis program offerings in Baltimore, and summer programs are starting now. If you would like your child or someone else you know to participate in these rewarding tennis programs for youth check here for location, dates and details for the programs. Registration is open and all are encouraged to sign up. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic aims to continue to grow these programs and tennis offerings in Baltimore to increase access to tennis and support the vision that all children have access to sports. 

One way you can get involved and show support is by volunteering with us to help with both of these programs. Volunteers are the heart of USTA Mid-Atlantic and there are plenty of opportunities beyond these as well, such as volunteering at local tennis events, community events, joining committees, and other USTA Mid-Atlantic projects. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, check out our volunteer page, and visit our volunteer hub to learn more about how you can get started and sign up to volunteer. 

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Refresh Your Tennis Life

Tennis is an ever evolving sport and whether you’re new to the courts or have been serving up aces for years, it’s never a bad time to go back and brush up on your knowledge and skills. At USTA Mid-Atlantic Section (USTA MAS), we want to be the one stop source so you can get the most out of what you are putting into your tennis game. USTA MAS has many resources and platforms to help you in your tennis journey. With that being said, we’ve compiled a list of three quick and easy ideas to help you refresh and enrich your tennis life so you can rock the courts all year long!

Tip #1 Refresh your Skills

“Practice makes perfect” is what they say and it’s true! Tennis is one of the most dynamic sports where you have to be sharp in your mental game as well as your physical game. During National Tennis Month, USTA Mid-Atlantic created a weekly series of one-minute video clips to demonstrate different techniques and tennis strokes that you can practice right on your local courts! Stroke of the Week is a great way to launch yourself into new heights gaining new tennis skills to know or perfecting and refining mastered tennis skills along the way. 

Tip #2 Refresh your knowledge about your Tennis Community 

Though you may know a little bit about USTA Mid-Atlantic Section and the tennis community we are creating together, there is always so much more to learn! As a nonprofit organization, we strive to grow tennis and make the sport accessible so that ALL people can experience the benefits. This is the heart of everything we do at USTA MAS and we truly believe that through tennis, we can create character, community, and well-being for all. Did you know that USTA Mid-Atlantic provides: 

  • Scholarships to youth players with financial need so they can stay in tennis and gain the character building benefits of the sport; 
  • Grants to help build or refurbish tennis courts that stimulate communities and increase access to quality tennis infrastructure; and
  • Financial and other resources to community tennis providers and organizations that support tennis programs that build community, character, and well-being?

In fact, in 2021, we were able to fund programs that helped 800 people find their community through tennis! And that’s just one example of the ways tennis is making a difference and changing lives – there’s more in the 2021 Annual Report. It is really special when you are a part of something that helps others; learn more about how you can make a difference in the community here. 

Tip #3 Refresh your knowledge of tennis rules and tennis lingo!

Rules and regulations are one of the most important aspects of playing tennis. It is perfectly okay to not know every single rule during a tennis match, but it is important to try and understand as much as possible and learn the rules of tennis. The rules and regulations can vary based on the match such as a singles match or doubles match. Luckily, USTA has compiled numerous resources all in one place that detail every single tennis rule you could possibly have a question about! Plus the more you become acquainted with – or refresh your memory on – certain rules, it can help enhance your experience on the tennis court. Plus, when you know the rules and are confident, that can encourage more sportsmanship and that always makes tennis great! 

Another big confidence booster in tennis is knowing the right lingo! There are a lot of acronyms and terms that get thrown around while you are on the tennis court. If you are just starting in tennis you may be wondering what terms you should know so you can keep up with everyone else on the court. And learning how to speak the tennis language can be pretty fun! Knowing what to say and how to talk about tennis can give you a leg up on your competition. We have a full list of every tennis term and the definition of each tennis term you need to know! 

And that’s it! Refreshing your tennis life doesn’t take long at all and as always, USTA Mid-Atlantic is here to help you along your journey. Put these three tips in your tennis bag and you’ll be able to ace any match that serves up your way! 

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

How Tennis Can Help You Honor Your Mental Health Year-round

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a great time to familiarize yourself with education and awareness on the topic. Taking care of your mental well-being and speaking out about mental health should be and can be honored year round. At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe tennis has the ability to foster character, community, and well-being for every individual. Part of the well-being aspect of tennis is social, emotional and mental health benefits. 

Professional players such as Naomi Osaka have spoken out about just how important it is to take care and acknowledge the state of your mental well-being and shedding light on how it’s okay to just take a break sometimes. According to the Physician and Sportsmedicine Journal Vol 37, when participating in tennis, “Regular participants experience a wide variety of health-related physical and mental benefits, from improved cardiovascular, metabolic, and bone health to improved agility, coordination, and even stress and anxiety management.” 

The benefits tennis has on your mental and physical well-being don’t stop there either. “Since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and thus promote a lifetime of continuing development of the brain, reported scientists at the University of Illinois.” Through a multitude of studies conducted, check out this list of 34 specific benefits on how tennis is a lifetime sport for ALL ages! 

Tennis is a sport that caters to all ages and abilities and USTA MAS strives to make tennis as accessible to every community as possible. As we recognize Mental Health Awareness month (and national physical fitness and sports month), we are serving up a few ideas for ways you can get into tennis and hopefully experience the well-being benefits the sport provides. 

Ways to get out on the Mid-Atlantic courts this season:

  1. Join a USTA MAS League
    Finding your place on court to play and compete can be just what you need to bust the stress.  Check out our step by step guide to become a USTA Mid-Atlantic adult league player. Still need a little more assistance? Check out Tennis Connect and we will help you find the right match for a team in your area or contact Leagues@mas.usta.com for more information on adult tennis opportunities.
  2. Join a Flex League
    Have a busy schedule? Flex Leagues are a great way to still join in on the fun all the while fitting your time on court into your own day! You choose the location, date, and time to play your matches so you can still curate that healthy balance in your life. 
  3. Recreational Play
    Tennis can be a method of relaxation and not just for competition. Looking to brush up on your skills? Or are you looking to get your family involved in the fun? Recreational play is a great way to just find your passion in tennis and the ability to learn something new! 

Taking care of your mental health can look different for each person. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to expressing yourself. Tennis is meant to be a fun sport that gives you lasting experiences you can enjoy! If you are looking for more resources on mental health, USTA has several articles for both adults and youth players. 

Jack Groppel & Nicholas DiNubile (2009) Tennis: For the Health of It!, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 37:2, 40-50, DOI: 10.3810/psm.2009.06.1708

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

Beat the Heat this Summer

May is National Tennis Month, the unofficial start to summer and the season of much warmer months! We’re slowly creeping up to summer and summer-like temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic and you know what that means: lots and lots of heat! 

As tennis players, you may have been playing indoors in climate-controlled conditions during the winter months and playing tennis outdoors during the more temperate spring weather feels pretty glorious. Transitioning from indoor to outdoor play, and from mild to hot weather can be a little bit of an adjustment especially if you’re not used to it or ready for it. You’ve got to prepare! 

We want you all to have an amazing summer tennis season and be prepared to play your best tennis even when the temps are rising high. So we’ve created a list of reminders of how to beat the heat when playing tennis so you can continue to rock the court this summer! 

Tip 1: Stay Hydrated

Hydration, hydration, hydration! Ensuring you’re keeping yourself hydrated before AND after a practice/match is essential to keep your body going. To do so, replenish with the same amount of liquid as you lose through sweat. That’s about 32-85 ounces during an hour of play. Try to hydrate well before outdoor play to avoid dehydration! If you’re looking for an extra boost, try Vitalyte, an electrolyte powder that replenishes nutrients at a faster pace. The best part is that you can take it on the go to any match and/or practice!  Check out more information on why hydration is so important to help you rule the court.  

Tip 2: Fuel Up

Food is energy; it’s what keeps your body going! It is important to fuel up with a balanced meal 3-4 hours before a match. In addition, to keep energy levels up during a match, it’s a good idea to have a light snack 1-2 hours beforehand. If allowed by the facility, bring an energy bar with you on court and have a couple bites during changeovers. 

Tip 3: Keep it Cool

Ice packs and coolers are great ways to physically cool down and also keep your drinks cold while you’re playing. You can cool down faster during changeovers by applying ice packs against your neck, underarms, and core, but avoid putting ice directly on your joints and limbs. Looking for a new cooler to take with you to the tennis courts? The USTA Mid-Atlantic Store from the Spoiled Office has great options if you’re looking for that perfect cooler that you can easily store your items in or even a new water bottle – plus these items allow you to rep USTA MAS! In addition, make sure you are wearing breathable clothing. Wearing breathable fabric during play is an effective way to stay cool. Clothing with mesh panels can also help prevent overheating by allowing your skin to breathe. 

Tip 4: Sun Protection

Sunscreen is essential to protect your skin when you are outdoors playing tennis! Sunburn can increase skin temperature and cause the body to be less efficient in cooling itself. Applying sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying at least every 2 hours can help prevent any discomfort that may follow with being in the heat so long. Also, packing a hat, sunglasses, and UV protective clothing can bring extra protection while you’re playing on the court! 

Summer brings some of the best memories on and off the tennis court. This list should have you ready to ace this summer season! If you’re looking for a way to get involved and play tennis, you can find tennis programs in your local area so you can take part in something fun all while being active! Plus USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creates community, character, and well-being benefits that can last a lifetime. 

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.