How You Can Serve it Forward to Youth Players this Summer!

Kids want to play tennis and all we have to do is put them on a path to get into the game. But sometimes, things get in the way. The cost of lessons or tennis summer camp fees, or even equipment can be more than some can afford. This is why we fundraise! 

We fundraise so that more youth players in need can have the chance to play. We fundraise to support scholarships that can help cover tennis expenses for any level youth tennis player. We fundraise so no one has to fall behind or have less time on the tennis court than someone else. 

All children deserve to play tennis and scholarships from USTA Mid-Atlantic make it so more youth can get into and stay in the sport. 

Join USTA Mid-Atlantic and fundraise in the Summer Smash challenge. This year all money raised in the challenge will fund scholarships for youth tennis players. 

And we need you now more than ever. 

The Junior Player Scholarship application period has been open only for a couple of weeks and we have received an overwhelming number of applications, more than we have ever seen before. We will exhaust all the funding we have for the scholarship just in this first round of applications. But so many more kids need help and need to be able to play tennis! 

Tennis continues to be an outlet for kids to get involved, make friends, and be active.  This year’s Summer Smash fundraising will directly fund youth tennis players with scholarships so they gain the healthy benefits of the sport we all love! 

Let’s Smash the Challenge Together 

This challenge provides a fun, easy way for your team to compete against other Mid-Atlantic teams to see how much money you can raise for the USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Scholarship program. It’s truly a special experience. 

“It’s fun sharing something important to me and telling others about its benefits,” said Robin Sanford, the top fundraiser in the 2021 Summer Smash Challenge. “I also love a challenge!”

Over the last 10 years, USTA Mid-Atlantic has awarded 91 youth players with scholarships to help cover expenses related to tennis and keep them playing. The goal is to raise $5,000 to fund more youth player scholarships and respond to the growing need among players and their families/caregivers. 

Here are the easy steps to get your fundraiser on a roll: 

  1. SIGN UP
    Click here
    to register as an individual with the option to join a team later!
  2. SHARE YOUR PAGE
    Personalize your page with your tennis story, photos and videos then share the news with your network.
  3. GET MORE SUPPORTERS
    Ask your friends and tennis teammates to join your team; you can send them a custom link to sign up on your dashboard. Also, share your fundraising page with friends and family asking them to support you so that more kids can experience the benefits of tennis!

“I set up my page and then emailed it to about 15 people individually, who I thought might be willing to help,” Sanford said. “These were family and friends who I thought would be willing to support my effort and help a good cause;they responded very generously.”

Here are four tips to help guide you towards a successful fundraiser: 

  • Make your first donation to your page, $5, $10, $25 or more is a great way to get started and show others you really care. 
  • Invite your fellow tennis players to join your fundraising team so that together you can reach your goal!
  • Share your fundraising page with family and friends and ask them to help you reach your goal. Share your page in a text message, on your Facebook page or Instagram page or even send an email! Friends help friends that ask! 
  • Send thank you notes to all who donate to your page and let them know they are helping to change lives through the sport of tennis!

The Perks of the Summer Smash 

Now, we do know tennis players love a little friendly competition! In recognition of that, you and your team could WIN big by going big with your efforts. 

Summer Smash 2022 top fundraiser prizes:

  • 1st Place: Citi Open Team Experience! Includes (15) tickets for your team to attend the 2022 Citi Open together this summer in Washington, DC among other surprises!
  • 2nd Place: Set of custom tennis shirts for you and your team and customized team cooler from the Spoiled Office AND a 2-hour tennis clinic for 12 at The Boar’s Head Resort!
  • 3rd Place: (15) $50 Gift Cards to TennisTopia, one for each member of your team AND a 2-hour tennis clinic for 12 at Wintergreen Resort!

The challenge ends July 11th, so let’s get started!

Participating in Summer Smash is a great way to begin leaving your impact on the Mid-Atlantic tennis community, but your journey doesn’t have to stop there! If you’re looking to do more to grow tennis in your community, there are various ways to get involved year-round and make an impact.

Questions? Contact Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development, cvargas@mas.usta.com.

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.

Four Ways to Develop New Friendships through Tennis

As we get older one thing remains true, everyone is in a constant cycle of change. 

People move, people get married, people travel, people start families, people take on new careers or businesses, there are many journeys that life takes us on as we go through adulthood. As your journey unfolds, you may find yourself in a place where you are searching for new friends and social connection. 

Making friends during childhood or the teen years is an important life-skill that develops and seems to come pretty easily. However, making friends as an adult when you’re way past those stages and don’t have free time on a playground, can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating. 

You may be wondering where to start and where to find those authentic friendships that will be fulfilling. Sometimes making new friends means connecting back to you and giving yourself the motivation to look inward to your passions and interests that maybe you’ve put aside, or it may mean you need to get out of your comfort zone and try something new to find new friendships. 

And that’s where tennis comes in! 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe tennis creates character, community, and well-being for ALL. With millions – 1.3 to be exact –  of people playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region, the community and network that is created and shared among tennis players is often one of the top reasons cited for playing the sport. The social aspect of tennis is undeniable. We hear countless stories of how tennis brings people together in unique ways to share in a common interest and passion. 

Plus, tennis is a lifetime sport so no matter what stage of life you are in, you can find yourself in the game and discovering new connections and relationships. 

Making friends in adulthood isn’t always easy, but we’ve got some tips that may help you find those besties and buddies you can’t live without all while getting to experience the health and well-being benefits tennis provides. 

Tip #1 Take a Chance and Put Yourself out There

Trying a new sport in your adult life can seem way more intimidating on the outside looking in. You don’t know the terminology, you may not know the rules, but what you can do is start small! 

You can find tennis programs in your local area that will help you learn the basics and begin in the sport. In these settings, you may be in a small group of adults all learning together and that can be the fun, shared experience that allows a friendship to form. In fact, check out this story of a group of strangers that started their tennis journey together and became a close-knit group of friends

Tip #2 Join a USTA League

If you’ve played tennis before or play on your own, USTA League may be the way to go to find new friends. USTA League is team-based and that means you have the opportunity to meet new people in your local area that share an interest in playing and competing recreationally in tennis. USTA League in the Mid-Atlantic has many different levels and age divisions where you can find your fit. USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is special because there are individuals from all walks of life that come together as a TEAM to help each other grow and learn. Not only do you get the chance to make new friends with your teammates, you may even find that your network gets wider as you play against different teams and opponents that you also start to get to know. Soon enough, you may find that your team on court becomes like a family off the court. 

Have you been looking to join a team? USTA Mid-Atlantic is here to help you get started. Check out the information we’ve made available. You can contact us through Tennis Connect if you need help finding a team.   

Tip #3 Volunteer with USTA Mid-Atlantic

Volunteers are what keep USTA Mid-Atlantic going as they are an intricate part of the growth of tennis in our region. Not only is volunteering a great way to get involved in your own community, it is also a great way to meet plenty of new people who enjoy the sport of tennis just as much as you do! Through volunteering you can become inspired and inspire others to put yourself out there, meet new people, and embrace the sport with full confidence. 

There are many ways to get involved and volunteer at local tennis events, community events, joining committees, and other USTA Mid-Atlantic projects; you can find the right fit for YOU. If you are interested visit our volunteer page to find out more.

#4 Start Up a Conversation

Do you have a child that plays tennis and you’re always at their matches and practices? Well this is a great chance to take the time to connect with other parents! Starting up a conversation with other parents while waiting for your child can be a great way to find a new connection. You could also organize a tennis parents meet up or lesson that runs while your children are learning in their class. Sparking new conversations at your local courts can bring new opportunities to connect with others who may have the same interest as you and your family. Tennis is a dynamic sport that can bring many new adventures all while having fun.

In the end, there could be a list of 20 different ways to foster new friendships through tennis but you will never truly know if you don’t take a leap of faith and try it out! In tennis, you have to put trust into the players next to you, it requires teamwork and communication which in turn can develop strong bonds and lifelong friends on and off the court. There are so many ways to get involved and the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is here to help you on this journey. We can’t wait to see you out on the courts soon! 

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.

Getting to the Top with Top Court

Are you looking to level up your tennis game in 2022? Then one option is with USTA Mid-Atlantic’s official e-learning partner, TopCourt. An innovative digital platform, TopCourt offers lessons with top pros to help you maximize your game. 

We thought it would be fun to give a member of our local tennis community a chance to test the platform and give us his opinion. We asked Bethesda, Md. player Thomas Pablo to try it out and let us know what he thought.*

Thomas played tennis growing up and rediscovered his love of the game five years ago when his oldest son started playing competitive junior tennis. He has won multiple Level 2 National Doubles Tournaments and three years ago, won the Bronze Ball in Men’s 50s Doubles Grass Court Nationals.  Also, Thomas and his son, a Division One College tennis player, regularly compete on the Father/Son National Level. Thomas states “I love the sport and I really want to take my game to the next level.” 

Thomas started using TopCourt and gained access to a variety of pro tennis players teaching classes on the platform. Thomas selected lessons with these pros multiple times: player Alexander Zverev, player Venus Williams, coach Brad Gilbert, player Andrey Rublev, and players Bob and Mike Bryan (Bryan Brothers).

Thomas Pablo Playing TopCourt

Here’s what he says about TopCourt: 

TopCourt lessons are full of pearls. The ones that jumped out at me were all the lessons on strategy as well as the lessons that offer little details that are easy for the average player to overlook. Here are the most notable insights that I learned: 

BRYAN BROTHERS (Lessons on what you need to know for your doubles game including Volley, Doubles Return position, Doubles Volleying position, Doubles Serve position)

In the Bryan Brothers’ series, they mentioned the danger of serving out wide. They said “great players are all good on the wings and can shape the ball down. Serve tight (i.e. Jam them in doubles) and limit their power.” They also mention that the first serve percentage should be 75%.  

ALEXANDER ZVEREV (Lessons on how Zverev approaches the Forehand, the Backhand, and the Return)

The Zverev lessons were quite detailed and a good window into his thought process which clarifies why and how he is executing his game plan. He mentioned what to do as a tall player as well as the importance of hitting with a closed stance. Zverev said a closed stance allows you to “create the most angles and that your shot is hidden from your opponent.”  In addition, he broke down the footwork and the stroke so that you could focus on execution if you wanted to practice.   

BRAD GILBERT (Lessons on latest drills and tips for club players and aspiring pros including the Dunk Volley and the Swinging Volley)

Another real winner was the Brad Gilbert lessons. A former top-five player in the world with limited athletic gifts, his tennis mind is next level. When he taught the swinging volley, he said “take an aggressive approach to BIG targets.” That was a revelation that I wasn’t expecting.  

After watching the lessons, the single biggest positive of the platform is that in every lesson the advice is high quality. What you see on Top Court is different from what you might experience at your local club, because you are gaining inside information from current pro tour players and coaches directly from their own game and training regimen.

Another positive was being able to select the top players who might be more in line with my game style and body type. For example, my son is 6’6” so being able to have him watch Alexander Zverev, who is also 6’6”, was really valuable.  

Thomas Pablo Playing tennis

The biggest con for the platform is taking it from your computer to the court. The time between watching the lesson and heading to the tennis court requires you to take really good notes and read through them when you practice. If you are serious about getting better, then it should not be a problem at all – especially if you can partner with someone that has seen the lessons and can help you replicate them. 

I think the best use of this platform would be for players who can train together and gather insights from the lessons then keep each other on track when practicing on court. In my case, my son and I have been watching the lessons together, talking about what we liked and didn’t like and then we have tried to take it onto the court and practice. Our next step is to use some of the doubles strategies in actual matches.  

Overall, this is a great platform for all ages. Adults are naturally more inclined to think about their game, but juniors are likely more adept at utilizing the technology. The nice part is that this platform is affordable and can reach a wide audience. 

Looking forward to lots of TopCourt in 2022. I still have Gold Ball Dreams!

USTA Mid-Atlantic thanks Thomas Pablo for his thoughtful comments on TopCourt. We hope that you found the article useful and will check out this exciting e-learning platform. For more information, please visit TopCourt

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.

 *USTA Mid-Atlantic provided T. Pablo a Top Court subscription in exchange for his review. USTA Mid-Atlantic is supported by our tennis community audience. This post contains an affiliate link and if you go through the link to make a purchase USTA Mid-Atlantic may receive commission. Keep in mind that USTA Mid-Atlantic links to this website because of their quality. This commission helps our vital work to grow tennis and increase access to the sport for all people in the Mid-Atlantic region

Tennis Holiday Shopping

Ways to Save on your Tennis Gifting Needs

When it comes down to the gift giving season, you’re either one or two types of people: you start shopping extremely early to ensure every person gets the gift they want or you crave the pressure (maybe the challenge) of shopping at the last minute to achieve gift-giving glory. No matter what type of shopper you are, every person needs a little assistance sometimes, especially when it comes to shopping for the tennis lovers in your life. Plus being part of the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community means you have access to some great discounts and resources that can come in really handy during the holiday season. Check out this list for some great resources, discounts and ways you can ACE the holidays. 

Shop These Tennis Discounts this Holiday:

  • Need the perfect gift for the special USTA League player, tennis teammate, or captain in your life (or maybe yourself – hey we don’t judge)? Shop the USTA Mid-Atlantic Store through The Spoiled Office for great personalized tennis apparel and tennis stocking stuffers you don’t want to miss!
  • As a proud sponsor of USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 12 Days of Gifting, Vitalyte is also offering 15% OFF on all orders with code USTA15 when you shop their store from December 1, 2021-January 31, 2022
  • Have an obsessed tennis player in your life? Give the gift of a 1-year subscription to TopCourt this year and they can access tennis instruction from the world’s top tennis talent! While you’re there, you can access a 14-day free trial and join your tennis obsessed pal in the fun. 
  • When you are part of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section tennis community you get access to special discounts and perks we’ve set up just for you! Shop with USTA Mid-Atlantic Brand Affinity Partners and support local this year!

But wait… there is more:

  • If you are online shopping and Amazon is your go-to, don’t forget to sign up for AmazonSmile with USTA Mid-Atlantic and make all of your purchases give back to growing the game!
  • Searching for a great way to help naturally replenish the body for a tennis player you know or even yourself after a match or practice? Shop SWEY Sports Drinks with the code USTAMAXSWEY21 to receive 10% OFF on all pre-orders!
  • USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 12 Days of Gifting, presented by Vitalyte, are underway and the giveaways are better than ever! Make sure to follow us on Facebook for the full list of PRIZES and details on how you can enter to win. 
  • If you’re looking for a long-lasting, meaningful gift this holiday season that will warm the heart, you can make a donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic and give back to tennis in honor of someone special in your life – a player, friend, captain, teammate, child or grandchild. Let them know you care about them, their love for the game and the future of tennis in the region.

Although this is just a short list of tennis gifts and shopping options, we hope this helps you find a winner for your holidays! 

USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creates community, character and well-being. We wish everyone a joyous and special holiday season. 

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.

Four Courts, Create Community

Community. It isn’t just a word in the name of Rappahannock Community College (RCC). It literally and figuratively is the center and central focus for this higher education institution in the rural area of Warsaw, Va. 

Founded in 1970, Rappahannock Community College [RCC] is more than just a school, it is a beacon for community vitality always at the ready to spur growth and continually meet the needs of the people, businesses, and industries in the areas they serve. RCC especially values being a catalyst and partner for opportunities to improve and revitalize the local area so that not only their students benefit, the community benefits as well. 

One such benefit to the community is the four tennis courts prominently located on the RCC campus, open and available for all to use. 

Although the community college does not have a designated tennis team, the tennis courts have been a fixture in the area and a place where you could always find an activity, meet up with a neighbor, and just have some fun. They are the only public tennis courts for the rural and economically challenged counties of Richmond, Westmoreland, Essex, and Northumberland with a collective population of just under 50,000.

“It was well-known that all were welcome on the courts and in-turn the courts were respected – people knew to turn the lights on, they turned them off and just fully enjoyed the space,” shared Dr. Shannon Kennedy, President of the Rappahannock Community College since 2019. 

Though having open access to the courts was an amazing opportunity for the community to play tennis and gain the benefits of the sport, the courts were coming to a point where they were worn down and in serious need of repair. In addition, there were two courts that were deemed completely off limits due to safety concerns. It was time to rebuild. 

Revitalizing the tennis courts fit into a larger vision for the economic redevelopment of downtown Warsaw. RCC and their partners recognized that updated tennis courts would offer a multi-generational gathering place and give people the opportunity for healthy living and community engagement. All people – retirees, youth, students and all in between – would have an improved and open place for tennis and daily activity. These tennis courts would also become the new home for the Rappahannock High School Tennis Teams.   

Many stakeholders got involved and championed the project. 

“I believe in working closely with the local school system, other higher education institutions, and industries in order to create and grow programs,” said Kennedy. “The best way possible to do something like this is to keep it as economically feasible for all partners. We want to show a collaborative spirit.

The collaborative spirit proved itself with the stakeholders, including RCC, pooling resources for the project. Everyone agreed that the tennis courts should be refurbished to the highest standards and done in a way that would preserve the maintenance of the courts long-term. 

But funding ran short.  That’s when the USTA Mid-Atlantic Tennis Court Refurbishment Grant created an additional pathway for RCC and their partners to push forward and finalize the project. 

With a grant for $10,000, they were able to use higher-quality materials, install a better surface and elevate the project to a new level, which ultimately could see big returns for the school and the community. In fact, some of the returns have started already.   

This past spring, the Rappahannock High School Girls Tennis team hosted District Championships on the new courts during which they came out victorious and made a run at the state championships. 

Kennedy shared that the new tennis courts are very active with people playing as early as 6 a.m. All-day long, individuals are soaking in the newness of the refurbished tennis courts, which were officially reopened in July. 

“Every time I pass by the courts, people are there – they are in constant use,” says Kennedy. “Our courts are bringing the community together, creating comradery, and instilling a sense of pride. They came at a good time.”

Moving forward, Richmond County is managing the use of the courts and implementing a variety of tennis programs, camps, and classes. There will even be an educational program for community college students interested in pursuing a career teaching physical education.   

“Tennis brings a lot of families and people together,” said Kennedy. “We’re hoping to have tournaments and bring people from outside the community to our courts. This is good for the college, the economy, and the community. The tennis courts are worth the investment and are looking at years of enjoyment to come.”  

Having four newly refurbished tennis courts open and available for public use has delivered on a promise to infuse vibrancy and spur community revitalization. With your support, the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis court refurbishment grant helped bring the courts and community to life. 

Make a gift to support our ongoing work helping more communities build and rebuild tennis courts, especially in under-resourced communities, so that more people can easily access the sport and all the benefits it provides. 

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

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.