Turning Love into Aces

The love for tennis knows no bounds. However, for some families, the cost of tennis can include more than just playing the game. For highly competitive junior players, the cost of tennis includes traveling to local and regional tournaments, extra hours on the court training and frequent purchases of new equipment. Every year, USTA Mid-Atlantic helps support these juniors and their families by providing scholarships that help ease the  financial impact associated with high levels of junior competition. Because of the support we receive from our members, players and donors, we are able to help junior players continue on his or her journey through tennis and becoming an ace both on and off the court. Read about why your support matters and what one scholarship recipient has to say about the impact our scholarships make.


Dear USTA Mid-Atlantic:

My name is Jelani Sarr, and I am 13 years old. All my life I’ve been playing the game I love – tennis. Since no one in my family has ever played tennis, how I started playing tennis is kind of an unusual story.

My story starts with me, my cousin, and my stepdad, waiting for my mom outside of the local library. While she was inside getting books, my stepdad, who I call my Uncle Coach, was trying to keep me and my cousin busy by having us hit some tennis balls against the wall with some old wooden racquets he had in his trunk. I was only three years old. Since that day, I’ve played other sports, like football and wrestling, but I kept coming back to tennis. It just stuck. I’ve been playing competitive tennis ever since.

Tennis has made multiple impacts on my life. For one, I travel to places in the United States that are beautiful! I also meet new friends among my fellow players. When we are not on the tennis court, we don’t see each other as competitors but as friends. My parents’ lives have also been affected because they get to travel with me. They have supported me all my life and have never given up on me; we have grown so much together.

A proud moment for me, where I felt like I have given back to my parents, was when I received a Sportsmanship award after winning my first National tournament. To cap it all off, the tournament sponsor let me wear his Golden State Warriors championship ring. I felt like a real warrior that day!

I would like to say thank you to the USTA Mid-Atlantic scholarship program and to everyone who supports it. This scholarship has been so important to me and my family because it makes me feel good to see my parents receiving something for a change. My parents have worked really hard to provide me with opportunities in the sport of tennis and given me tools to go as far as I can. This scholarship is recognition for all tennis parents and their hard work for turning all their love into our aces.


Jelani Sarr


Jelani is an avid competitor in tennis tournaments across the nation and one of thousands in the Section that compete year-round with a dream of going pro. Support stories like Jelani’s by making a tax-deductible contribution to USTA Mid-Atlantic today! For more information about our fundraising initiatives, reach out to Helen Li at li@mas.usta.com.


Top Moments of 2017

Each new year is full of new possibilities on the court: A child picking up a racquet for the first time. A first-time Regional champion. A first trip to the US Open. In both the Mid-Atlantic and the entire tennis world, 2017 was full of so many unforgettable moments big and small. So before we move on to a new year of new opportunities, we chose some of our favorite tennis memories of the past year, in no particular order.


Who could forget the first Grand Slam final of the year? A throwback showdown between the Williams sisters in Melbourne! Despite Venus’ best efforts, Serena came out on top 6-4, 6-4 to take home the trophy. But only months later did we find out that Serena was eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open, an incredible way to earn her 23rd Grand Slam…and Baby Alexis’ first. 

RogerandRafa Laver cup

 2017 certainly saw the resurgence of the Federer-Nadal rivalry and friendship. First, at the Australian Open Final on opposite sides of the court when Roger prevailed in their first meeting at a major final since 2011. Then, in a move that tennis fans had certainly dreamed about for years, the duo teamed up for some Doubles at the Laver Cup. Who thinks we’ll see Federer-Nadal #39 at a Grand Slam in 2018?

Intersectional 16s Champs

In July, Mid-Atlantic’s Intersectionals 16s team went from unseeded to unstoppable and were crowned National Champs! These kids took down top players from other USTA Sections and showed great sportsmanship and enthusiasm along the way. It was certainly a moment they’ll remember for years to come!

Sophie Chang

We’re heading to the Citi Open for our next top moment of 2017, which is where Mid-Atlantic’s own Sophie Chang got her first WTA-level victory! The 20-year-old Havre de Grace, MD native took advantage of entry in her hometown tournament by winning her first match and has kept the success rolling through the rest of the year. Sophie’s currently ranked a career high #305 in the world in Singles and #185 in Doubles!

Award Photos

We loved seeing THREE Mid-Atlantic adult league teams be crowned National Champions this year! Congrats to the 55 & Over 8.0 Men from Virginia Beach, the Mixed 18 & Over 10.0 team from DC, and the Mixed 40 & Over 8.0 team from Montgomery County. Who wants to be celebrating a 2018 national championship with their team?


Tyler, from the Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the honorary coin flipper before a match during the Citi Open. Standing between Lauren Davis and Aryana Sabalenka, Tyler did a great job representing the Net Generation and future of tennis in America.


Bringing the Fed Cup back to the US for the first time since 2000 was more than enough to be one of our favorite moments in 2017! These women defeated teams from countries across the world and came out as champions.


We couldn’t stop watching Mid-Atlantic’s own Frances Tiafoe continue to grow as a player and achieving new firsts. In 2017, Frances won his first Grand Slam match, got his first Top 10 win over Alexander Zverev and pushed Roger Federer to 5 sets in Arthur Ashe Stadium. We can’t wait to see what’s in store in 2018!

Our final favorite moment of 2017 was basically just the entire last few days of the US Open on the Women’s side. From FOUR Americans in the semifinals to Sloane Stephens winning it all in her comeback year to the “hug heard ’round the world” after the Final, we won’t forget what happened in Flushing Meadows for a long, long time.

Official Rules: Seven Days of Shirts Celebration


  1. Each day’s contest will be announced on the USTA Mid-Atlantic official Facebook page daily between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17, 2017. To enter on Days 1,2, 4, 5 and 7, successfully comment on the corresponding Facebook post on the USTA Mid-Atlantic (Official) Facebook page. To enter on Day 3, register for an Adult League in the Mid-Atlantic Section between Dec. 13 and Dec. 18, 2017. To enter on Day 6, successfully complete the Storytelling form found here: https://form.jotform.com/70195017690961. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. the day following the corresponding Facebook post.
  2. Among eligible entrants, one winner each day will receive one tennis holiday-themed t-shirt. Winners are chosen at the discretion of USTA Mid-Atlantic staff. The shirt cannot be exchanged for an alternate prize and holds no value.
  3. Winners will be notified via Facebook message or email and must respond with their address in a timely manner or a replacement winner will be chosen. All shirts will be shipped to the address the winner provided.


OFFER VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. By submitting an entry, you agree to be bound by these rules and represent that you satisfy all eligibility requirements.

  1. ELIGIBILITY: The Seven Days of Shirts Celebration (the “Contest”) is open to residents of the United States over the age of 18. Employees and other representatives of USTA Mid-Atlantic Section (“USTA MAS”) or its affiliates, distributors, agencies, and members of each of their immediate families are not eligible to enter or win. Offer is void where prohibited or restricted by law. One entry per day per person.
  2. TIMING: Day 1 of the contest will begin on Dec. 11, 2017 and Day 7 of the contest will begin on Dec. 17, 2017. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. the day following each day’s corresponding Facebook post, unless otherwise stated. For Day 3 of the contest, registrations must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 18, 2017. USTA MAS reserves the right to select no winners for any day’s contest.
  3. SELECTION OF WINNERS: Winners will be chosen at the discretion of the USTA MAS employees, either by selection or random drawing. USTA MAS reserves the right, at its discretion, to disqualify any entry that does not comply with the rules or to disqualify any individual (and their entry) who tampers with the entry process.
  4. WINNER VERIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by Facebook message or email. If the winner is unreachable, ineligible or fails to claim the prize within fourty-eight (48) hours after being contacted, such winner will forfeit the prize and the prize may be awarded to another winner, at the discretion of USTA MAS.
  5. GENERAL CONDITIONS: Entrants grant to USTA MAS the right to use and publish their proper name online, in print or in any other media in connection with the Contest. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for USTA MAS to use winners’ names and likeness’ for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. By entering, participants release and hold harmless USTA MAS, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability for injuries, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the Contest or any prize won. Promotion is subject to the USTA Privacy Policy found at https://www.usta.com/en/home/about-usta/who-we-are/national/usta-privacy-policy.html?intloc=footer. A list of winners can be made available upon request.

This is Mid-Atlantic Tennis: Matt Modderno’s Story

This post is part of a series that tell the stories of how tennis has influenced people’s lives in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Meet Matt Modderno from Gaithersburg, Md. Over the past two years, Matt has played on over 20 League teams across Maryland, DC and Virginia! To share your story or send to someone you know, click here.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I work full-time for the FAA while attending grad school. And that’s in addition to my other full-time job, captaining USTA teams!

How has tennis impacted your life?

Tennis is my outlet. It’s helped me meet some of my best friends in life, blow off steam after a stressful work day, and its the only thing keeping me from being 300lbs.

When and how did you first become involved with the USTA?

I played my first league in 2010 during my senior year of college. I played pick-up tennis next to a guy who was very active in leagues so he got me on his teams and we are still good friends and teammates to this day.

Matt Modderno 2

Matt (far right) and his teammates took home a 4th place finish at USTA National Championships in 2016

When thinking about tennis’ role in your life, how do you feel?

I mostly feel satisfied, with some happiness and pride mixed in. I’ve met good people, gotten better at the sport, and been reasonably successful in league play.

What do you like most about tennis? What keeps you coming back to the sport?

Being able to compete. There aren’t many options for adults to compete in recreational sports where the people actually take it seriously. The grateful teammates who reach out and tell you that they had a good experience being on your team/teammates with you keeps me coming back.

In David’s Words: Why Donate?

As the year quickly comes to end and you make your charitable gifts, watch this video from a donor and hear why you should give to USTA Mid-Atlantic.

Donors just like David are helping to support the growth of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic. In fact, 100 percent of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section staff contributed in 2017 with charitable gifts. But we can’t do it alone. Can you join in and make a difference too?

As David says, your dollars go beyond the sport – they help change lives and make a difference for deserving kids and adults alike in the Mid-Atlantic. Make a special year-end donation of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help us continue our mission. Our reach goes way beyond leagues – learn more about our programs and how your contribution can help make tennis possible for more people in the Mid-Atlantic.