TGA: A Game Changer for Mid-Atlantic Kids

When you first walk in to the school gym it hits you – the sounds of laughter, fun, and excitement with a distinct buzz of energy. You hear kids happily shouting to a friend, “ok, your turn to hit it to me now!”  As you scan the room, you see faces with smiles that are contagious, and others deep in skillful concentration. There is action everywhere controlled by the coaches in the room that are in the middle of it all, encouraging and guiding the students through their activities.

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This is what you see at a typical TGA Premier Youth Tennis after school program in the Mid-Atlantic.  What you may not see right away though is how this program is changing and benefiting lives – not just through physical activity that all kids need, but through the life lessons the kids are learning and enrichment they are getting through STEM activities too. Review the stats on the impact the program is having, and one can understand why this is a game changer for kids and the sport of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic.

USTA Mid-Atlantic has been offering TGA Premier Youth tennis after school and out-of-school time programs since 2016. In 2017, nearly 4,000 kids in communities across Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia were given the chance to learn tennis and develop personal qualities such as respect, honesty, decision-making and sportsmanship. These kids come from all types of communities – notably, 37 percent of the schools where programs are established service under resourced communities where at least 50 percent of the student population is enrolled in the National Free or Reduced Meal Program.

For some, especially those in under resourced communities, having this type of enrichment program accessible to them is a rarity. This is why USTA Mid-Atlantic is so committed to bringing the program to all types of communities to ensure that kids have a chance to learn tennis, build friendships, develop life skills and play.

We want to reach even more kids and offer these programs at little to no cost to every school in the Mid-Atlantic, but we need your help.

With our spring programs wrapped up and summer programs in action, we are making strong progress to introduce kids to tennis and break down the barriers that get in the way. We need you to help us keep the momentum going and ensure the impact and positive change doesn’t stop.

Here are just some highlights of what we’ve done so far in 2018 in a few of our program areas.

West Virginia

Our TGA after school tennis programs in West Virginia service some of the most under resourced communities, with programs taking place in schools where 100 percent of the student body qualifies for the National Free or Reduced Meal Program. We hit a record of having more than 300 children participating in one season and this spring, 15 scholarships were distributed. Be a game changer and help ensure more kids can get active and play.

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Prince William County, Va.

Prince William is one of our newest areas to offer tennis enrichment programs and one of the most economically diverse as well. The program achieved 300 percent growth for participation compared to the fall 2017 season and awarded more than $800 in scholarships so kids can play. Be a game changer and help us make tennis the most accessible sport in the Mid-Atlantic.

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Loudoun County, Va.

One of our original program areas, students participating in after school and out-of-school time programs are seeing their dedication pay off. Our TGA programs allow players to progress through a five-level color coded path at their own pace. They start at yellow and work toward black level which indicates a strong level of awareness and understanding of the game as well as demonstrated leadership among peers. This spring, two kids participated at the black level which is a first for the Mid-Atlantic. Be a game changer and help us put more kids on the path to success.

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Richmond, Va.

In Richmond, TGA programs were offered at Bensley Elementary which the most economically disadvantaged school in Chesterfield County, servicing a school population with 86 percent qualifying for the National Free or Reduced Meals Program. At this school we were able to award 16 partial scholarships to participants. Be a game changer and help us ensure all kids no matter their background, location, resources, access or ability precludes them from learning the sport of tennis.

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This is just a start; think of what could happen if you help us do even more

Will you help us make it possible for one more child to experience playing tennis? With every gift, USTA Mid-Atlantic moves one step closer to our vision of bringing tennis to all young people and communities in the Mid-Atlantic and breaking down barriers to entry and play.  Make a tax-deductible gift today to support a new player in the game, one who can champion the sport for others for a lifetime.

If you want to learn more about how USTA Mid-Atlantic is making an impact as a charitable 501(c)3 non-profit, visit www.usta.com/midatlanticimpact and continue to visit our blog for inspiring stories of our tennis community.

Advantage Anderson

This Father’s Day we bring you the story of tennis coach, dad and tennis mentor Tom Anderson, from Chesapeake Va. Tom recently shared with us his insights on being a tennis coach and a tennis dad and what really matters on the court. Anderson’s philosophy epitomizes what we at USTA Mid-Atlantic believe – that tennis can help kids develop invaluable personal qualities that deliver lifelong benefits. 

The typical tennis dad: hanging on every close call, cringing at a missed backhand, and feeling a sense of accomplishment after a tournament victory that he had little to do with are all sights you could catch a hold of at a court near you. The highs, the lows, the tennis dad feels them all.

Then there’s Tom Anderson. His 11-year old son, Cort, — he’s really Thomas IV but everybody calls him Cort — is among the top juniors in the USTA’s Mid-Atlantic Section. Nobody roots harder for the pint-sized rising sixth-grader than Dad, and yet. . .

“I’m a weirdo,” Anderson admitted. “I almost want him to face adversity and see bad things because I know it’ll help him learn and develop down the road.”

You see for Anderson, USTA Mid-Atlantic Community Outreach Award winner in 2014 from Chesapeake, Virginia, tennis is a metaphor for life. Every struck ball reflects a decision. You and only you are accountable. No coaching allowed.

“The adversity that a tennis match brings is unique from other sports,” he said. One break can cost a set. A net cord can be demoralizing. Disagreeing with an opponent’s out call can tilt a match.

“I used to be whether it is win or lose, but now I am much more concerned with how my kids play and how they handle the adversity,” he said. “Parents watching their kids play tennis seem to get so upset over a bad call. If they really want their kids to develop in the long run, they have to deal with those tough situations themselves so they’re better prepared down the road; either as a tennis player or a professional.”

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Coach Anderson with junior players at the 2017 Stars of Tomorrow at the Citi Open tournament

Anderson pushes life lessons on and off the court.

“The main thing he has taught me is how to be a gentleman and to always keep fighting,” said Cort.

Anderson’s always done that, dating back to his own days playing tennis at Western Branch High School where he was a doubles champion and part of a team that advanced to the state semifinals.

The senior director for investments for a Virginia Beach firm is all business when it comes to stocks and trades until the market closes at 4 p.m. Then he sheds the suit and tie for shorts and his customized Coach Anderson tennis hat he wears at Western Branch High School, where he runs one of the most successful public school tennis programs in the state. While he likes his Bruins to win, he’s more concerned with his players’ demeanor on court.

“We had just lost 5-1 to First Colonial to end our season but Coach saw it differently,” said Ben Holtzclaw, the team’s senior captain who played No. 1 singles and doubles for the last three years for the Bruins. “He told us it was the proudest he had been all year due to the late comebacks in sets. We left it all on the court and he saw that.”

Cort is a regular at Western Branch practice, too, along with his siblings Alice, 9, Smith, 8,  and Ruthie, 6; oldest daughter, Kate, 18, is the only Anderson who shies away from the racquet (The Andersons were named the USTA Mid-Atlanic’s Family of the Year in 2014). One day the boys will play for their dad, but until then, they’ve soaked up being among the giants.

“Being around all the high school guys and the team really got me hooked. Everyone was really nice to me and I just wanted to keep coming and my love for the game just kept growing and growing,” said Cort, who will spend the next month at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida.

As good as Western Branch, Cort and the Anderson crew are at forehands and backhands, Anderson harps more on how the lessons of tennis translate to everyday life.

“Ten years of coaching now and I would put the GPA, colleges attended, and success after college way above the norm for the school population in general,” Anderson said. “I’m not necessarily focused on the next match as much as I am looking out a few years down the road.”

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Coach Anderson’s students often participate in the USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 10U BLAST Tour

He’s excited about a junior development program he’s just started that he hopes will introduce youth to the game. He’s running a tournament in Chesapeake that he hopes will grow into one of the largest in the state.

“I believe that kids who learn tennis in their youth have an increased probability to be successful in life. If I am able to get more kids in our community to play tennis – that is a great accomplishment, right there. Starting with my own family, I see my children beginning to love the game and I know the benefits that will come from that, all good things” 


Harry Holtzclaw is an intern with USTA Mid-Atlantic. Holtzclaw played at court one for Coach Anderson and the Western Branch Bruins from 2013-15. Harry is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management from James Madison University.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Natasha Subhash’s Thoughts on Tennis

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in March, we’re asking several tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic – of all ages and abilities – about the importance of role models on and off the court and their own role models.

The final feature of the month is of Natasha Subhash, one of the top junior players in the Mid-Atlantic and the entire country. We caught up with Natasha before she headed to California to play at the Easter Bowl tournament and got her thoughts on her own tennis journey, who on the pro tour she might see as a role model and what advice she has for younger players.

Player, Mother and Coach: Jeri Ingram Reflects on the Impact of Role Models

To celebrate Women’s History Month in March and the impact that women in tennis have made and continue to make by acting as strong female role models, we’re catching up with players of all ages and abilities throughout the month to talk about their experience.

Jeri Ingram 2This week’s Q&A is with Jeri Ingram, who is the founder of the Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group and currently serves as Vice President on the USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors. Jeri started playing tennis in a public park with her father when she was 9 years old and went on to become an All-ACC player at the University of Maryland and spent eight years on the WTA Tour.

Did you look up to any tennis players when you were learning?

I initially looked up to my father and the people he played tennis with in the parks as well as the players he played against in local tournaments. As time went by I always looked up to my tennis coaches and my fitness coaches that worked with me every day.  Every single coach had something to offer and I was a “sponge” for learning all that I could. Other individuals that I looked up to were Arthur Ashe, Lori McNeil, Zina Garrison, Katrina Adams, and Rodney Harmon.

Do you think having a role model helped you with your game?

Yes, I know these role models helped my game. They were, and still are, the voices that I would hear in my daily life as I made decisions on and off the tennis court. My father always made sure he kept me around healthy people and I was always confident that these people were moving me forward so I wanted to ensure that I was using their advice.

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Jeri with the great Arthur Ashe after winning a trophy.

Thinking back to when you started in tennis, did you believe you could become a professional player and have a career in tennis?

When I began tennis I did not think about becoming a professional. I mostly thought of becoming a better tennis player every day and having a better result in the next tournament each time. Once I was a sophomore in high school I began to believe I could become a professional tennis player. Once I became a senior in high school I began to know that was what I should work for in my life.

I definitely did not know I would have a full career in tennis until I retired from the WTA Tour and finished college. I knew then that I wanted to combine my life experience with my business expertise to grow the game of tennis, effect change in various communities, and influence high performance outcomes.

As a mom with two daughters who both play tennis, do you think having strong female role models are important  to their tennis game? Why?

Yes, I think having strong role models are important because it perpetuates the “I can do this too!” attitude and at times, it can facilitate easier communication between player and coach when it is female to female. Thankfully, tennis is a sport that has strong role models at every turn.

As a former pro player, current coach, and mom how does it feel that some kids may look up to you as their role model?

As I reflect on all of those roles, I feel as though it is an awesome responsibility to be an excellent role model to my own children, other young tennis players, all children and adults as well. Having traveled the athletic path from learning on my neighborhood courts to the pros, it is important to share how that journey has shaped me and set an example to inspire others to continue to excel in their own game and life.

What would you tell a girl who dreams of being a professional tennis player?

I would tell her a number of things:

I tell a girl who dreams of being a professional tennis player to first dream of being the best you that you can be. Whether it is on the tennis court, off the tennis court, in the classroom or beyond.

I tell her to work your hardest every day to be better than you were yesterday. The standard you set for yourself is the standard you will become.

Being a professional athlete/tennis player is a different path and if you want to be different then you have to “be different.”

I tell her to get up in the morning and do the best you can then go to sleep and get back up in the morning and do it all over again.

What is the most satisfying part of being a professional tennis player/coach?

The most satisfying part of being a professional tennis player when I was playing tennis was to work hard at getting it right on the court, to see the world while doing it, and the relationships that I made that have lasted a lifetime.

The two most satisfying parts of being a professional tennis player/coach now is one, that I have a platform of experience to speak from to mentor, motivate, inspire, and change the lives of young players; and two, I have experience to initiate growth, change, and innovative initiatives as well.

What has it been like seeing your daughters pursue tennis?

(Laughs) This may be the most satisfying and difficult aspect of my tennis career to date.  I want the best for them, so as a parent that is emotional. As a coach, you know that the tough lessons are often the best lessons.  But, at the end of the day I know that the life lessons and experiences that tennis will afford them will make them better human beings with the game in their lives than without.

To continue advancing the role women have in sports, USTA Mid-Atlantic is building a dynamic community of women who will have a strong, positive, collective impact on communities across the region. Led by Jeri Ingram, the Women’s Giving Circle brings together women who share common philanthropic goals and want to become more involved philanthropically in tennis. To learn more about how to join the giving circle and be a leader in the tennis community, please contact Helen Li at li@mas.usta.com.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tennis Inspiration

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in March, we’re asking several tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic – of all ages and abilities – about the importance of role models on and off the court and their own role models.

Next up in this mini-series is McKenzie. McKenzie is a TGA Premier Youth Tennis afterschool tennis player in Virginia. We sat down with McKenzie at her last TGA class of the winter session and talked to her about her tennis inspirations as a beginner in the sport. McKenzie earned her yellow wristband and a TGA hat that day so this was a pretty special moment!

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How did you first start playing tennis?

My mom taught me how to play tennis at first. It was really cool to learn from my mom because I didn’t really know she could play tennis.  And my mom is good teacher!

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What do you like about learning tennis after school with TGA?

My favorite part of learning tennis with TGA is making new friends and learning new things.  I feel really proud and I feel good because I accomplished something new.

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Would you ever want to play tennis as a job?

Yeah! Tennis makes you really strong and I like playing tennis because it is challenging so it [tennis as a job] would be challenging and I like that!

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Do you know any professional tennis players and what do you think of them?

The Williams Sisters! They make me feel like I could be doing the same thing one day – we are both girls so I feel like I can do what they do.


Check back all month long to read more stories on how having strong role models have helped and are helping girls and women in their tennis careers and their lives. Learn more about how we’re making a difference in lives across the Mid-Atlantic: www.usta.com/midatlanticimpact