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.


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.

The Life-Changing Impact of Tennis

There are probably a whole host of reasons why you play tennis or show your love of the sport. You love the competitive nature of the game and the power of the racquet; the confidence it gives you when you challenge yourself to improve and the lifelong circle of friends you’ve made. You love the benefit of staying in shape or maybe you see the passion of the sport through the eyes of your child, watching them learn lifelong skills such as sportsmanship and dedication. You watch them flourish and gain self-confidence thanks to tennis.

As a 501(c)3 charitable organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic is committed to growing the sport for all of these reasons and more.  As the year quickly comes to an end, we ask you to consider making a charitable gift that will help support our efforts to bring tennis opportunities to people of all ages in the Mid-Atlantic and support the mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis.

Players are always telling us how tennis has made an incredible impact on their lives. We want to share one of those stories with you. Mary Martin, a USTA League player from Annapolis, Md.,  told us her tennis story and how “that little fuzzy yellow tennis ball” brought her out of the depths of despair during some of the worst times of her life.

Here is what Mary had to say…


Mary Martin has made many close friends through tennis, including her former doubles partner David Harley, who unfortunately passed away in 2012.

I really don’t know how it happened (tennis that is), but I am sure glad that I found it, or it found me or we found each other!  I was involved in martial arts for many years and needed a change in sports. My youngest son had taken some tennis lessons so I went with him one day and got hooked! I wasn’t even that good, but wow, when I hit that little fuzzy yellow ball it was intoxicating and made me feel empowered and like I could conquer the world. I joined a Mid-Atlantic Adult League and had no idea how much fun tennis could be or how many friends I could make through the sport.

Soon after I started playing, my oldest son joined the Marines and was deployed to Iraq for two tours. He returned home and what he went through and suffered during his tour of duty we will never know or understand. What I can tell you is that I completely understand what PTSD is and that my son suffered badly. He was living on the edge, and I was there on the edge with him.

But tennis saved me.

No matter how hard the day was with my son, just knowing I could go to the courts and hit that little yellow ball got me through. Not to mention the support I got from my tennis friends when I got there – the shoulders to cry on, the comforting conversations, the understanding when I was standing at the net with tears in my eyes. Their support and even just getting on the court, exercising and hitting the ball always made me feel better even if just for an hour and a half. Tennis gave me a new a perspective.

Little did I know I would be calling on that little fuzzy yellow ball and tennis friends once again when my mother passed away in my arms. Seeing my tennis friends at her funeral was an overwhelming and heartwarming feeling. Almost immediately, my life changed again when my father moved in with me.

Mary Martin 3

Mary and others in the tennis community plant bulbs annually at a local park in honor of tennis friends who have passed away.

My father didn’t play tennis, but one of his favorite things to do was to go with me to the tennis courts on Saturday mornings for my league play or tag along to matches with me. This was our routine for two and a half years until he passed.  I will always be grateful to all the tennis people who welcomed my father onto the court and let him sit to the side while we played a match.

Tennis really has been so good to me, helping me through some of the toughest times in my life. Not only that, I’ve enjoyed that overwhelming feeling of being on a team that advances in league play from Regionals to Sectionals and even Nationals! Knowing you did it as a team and that you are part of something so much bigger is an incredible feeling.

I give thanks to Mid-Atlantic tennis and all the people I have crossed paths with because of the sport, leagues and beyond. I hope that I am healthy and happy enough to stay involved with tennis and hitting that yellow fuzzy ball and feeling like I can conquer the world for many years to come!

Your support of USTA Mid-Atlantic make stories like Mary’s possible enabling us to deliver quality tennis programs that bring people like you and those new to the sport together to improve lives. This is just one of many stories of the power of tennis. Would you be willing to 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.

We simply can’t do it without you.  Please, click here to make your donation now.

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions and donations will be tax deductible. 


Thank You from USTA Mid-Atlantic

Seems like in recent times as soon as the calendar flips to November 1, the rush of the holiday season takes over. But one holiday fast on the way allows us all to take a day and reflect (and eat delicious turkey with all the fixings to our hearts’ and stomachs’ content) on the good things in life.


Thanksgiving is a time when we can collectively say “thank you” and acknowledge what we are grateful for from the past year. In a tennis player’s year, I am sure there is much to be thankful for – everything from your league teammates to finally getting your serve just right to those netcord winners on key points. For a tennis parent, maybe you’re thankful your child has made lots of new friends, learned new skills and has been having so much fun thanks to the sport for a lifetime.

As a 501 (c)3 charitable organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic is not able to accomplish all that we do to promote and develop the growth of tennis without the support of the entire tennis community (and beyond). Your commitment is invaluable and we know comes from a deep passion for the game that connects us all.

So with Thanksgiving nearly here, we had to take a few moments and give some tennis thank yous too. We created this special message of thanks to you – our Mid-Atlantic tennis community — for all that you do to support the mission and grow tennis. We are thankful for YOU!

To learn more about USTA Mid-Atlantic’s impact through tennis visit www.usta.com/midatlantic.

Lauren Hoffmann is USTA Mid-Atlantic’s director of marketing, communications and membership. At Thanksgiving she’ll enjoy turkey two ways – smoked and deep-fried – and her favorite side dish is cranberry sauce.    

Dylan’s TGA Summer Camp Diary

Throughout the summer, we’ll be sharing “diaries” of what kids at our TGA tennis camps thought about each day. This is what 9-year-old Dylan had to say about his day camp at Indian Creek School.

TGA Diary Anne Arundel Cropped

Monday: Today was the first time I played tennis. I learned how to do a top spin. It was a lot of fun. I played a lot of games.

Tuesday: I learned how to hit the ball with a backhand. I also learned how to hit the ball with a forehand. I met some new people. We had a lot of fun together.

Wednesday: We all played with water balloons. I got really wet with water. We played games and it was fun. We learned a lot of stuff.

Thursday: I learned how to do a serve. I also learned how to do an over hand strike. We all played the game jailbreak. We had a lot of fun.

Friday: We played LIFE and I lost ☹, but it was fun 🙂. I got a Frisbee. We all played cards. Most importantly I had fun.