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.

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.

Summer Tennis Camp

Summer Full of Tennis Thanks to Scholarships

In partnership with adidas tennis camps

Andrea Vargas playing tennis at adidas summer camp

“What did you do over the summer?” 

As classrooms and school hallways fill with students excited to be returning to school, many children will ask this question. Some will describe memorable trips or time spent with family and friends. Some will share about summer camps and new experiences or adventures. 

For Andrea Vargas, a youth tennis player from Washington, D.C. she’ll be answering the question with, “I went to tennis summer camp!” Andrea received the USTA Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship to attend a week of the adidas tennis camp at the Madeira School in McLean, Va.  

The Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship program gives young athletes the opportunity to attend a summer tennis camp free of charge.

This scholarship program is made possible by the USTA Mid-Atlantic and organizations that donate camp sessions, such as the adidas tennis camp.

“Having the experience to come and enjoy my time at this summer camp was… FANTASTIC,” Andrea said. “I had the luxury to meet friends that I wouldn’t have met [before], and played amazing tennis with my friends, all thanks to this awesome camp!”

The adidas summer tennis camp is designed to give players the chance to uplevel their tennis. With the help of instruction from top coaches, players have the chance to play in exhibition matches with other athletes and access skillful drills. This camp enables athletes to become better tennis players in a fun, positive, and inclusive atmosphere. 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we are proud to give players the opportunity to continue to work on their tennis skills, build their community of tennis friends and grow through the character-building elements of the sport through scholarships that make experiences such as summer camp accessible.  

“This scholarship has impacted my tennis in so many ways. I learned things I wouldn’t have learned in another academy,” Andrea said when reflecting on how the USTA Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship helped her tennis improve. 

Andrea Vargas playing tennis at the adidas summer camp

“Additionally, I had the opportunity to get some quality match play against a very good player and, of course, had fun while enjoying the sport I love the most!”

USTA Mid-Atlantic creates character. It is part of our mission to create opportunities for character building through the sport of tennis for all people. With the help of programs like the adidas summer camp, it increases access to character building benefits so ALL players have the chance to achieve the lifelong enjoyment of the sport.

To stay up to date on additional scholarship opportunities from USTA Mid-Atlantic, click here. And to learn more about the impact tennis is making in the Mid-Atlantic, explore additional resources here

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn how you can support our vital work and programs such as our summer camp scholarships and more.

Mikeal Carpenter Scholarship Recipient

Junior Scholarship Helps Players Reach Goals

A Testimonial to the Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship Program, from Mikeal C.

As a youth tennis player, Mikeal Carpenter had a vision for where he wanted to be and where he wanted his tennis game to go. He knew he wanted to eventually take his tennis talents into the collegiate level and hopefully progress from there. That is when he knew his route to get there involved tennis tournaments.

Mikeal Carpenter, Junior Player Scholarship recipient, Playing Tennis

Carpenter was successful in what he set out to do. His journey as a junior in the Mid-Atlantic Section was notable. Carpenter ranked within the top 5 in the Section and the top 100 Nationally. In 2019, he won the B18s June Sectional and was a finalist in B18s at the 2019 Zimmerman/Johnson USTA National Tournament. Currently, his tennis journey continues as a freshman on the men’s tennis team at Morgan State University. 

For Mikeal, being able to play in a variety of youth tennis tournaments was important for his path to success. So was being a 2018 USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship recipient.

Read How Below:

First, when asked how receiving a scholarship helped further his tennis game, Carpenter responded, “receiving a scholarship from USTA Mid-Atlantic helped me a lot because I was able to play more tournaments and improve my game to go to the next level.”

Since 2013, the USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship has helped young tennis players and families cover expenses related to tennis. It helps take away some of the financial worries that some families have when it comes to buying tennis equipment and shoes or adding in a few more lessons to the schedule.

Above all, it is because of generous donations from you that the scholarship program can help more children continue to play or start playing. 

“My two main goals for the future of my tennis game is to graduate from college while playing tennis, and I also want to play on the professional level at Wimbledon someday,” Carpenter said.

Read below to learn why he believes it important for you to support the Scholarship program.

Show Your Support:

Mikeal Carpenter, Junior Player Scholarship recipient, Playing Tennis at Orange Bowl

By supporting the Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship you can help more juniors in the Section achieve big goals like Mikeal. Expenses and access to tennis should not hinder any junior from being able to play the game they love. 

“People should support the scholarship program because it helps players who didn’t have the opportunity to play [in] certain tournaments the ability to play,” Carpenter said. “It really helps someone in need.”

Overall, at USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe that neither background, location, resources, nor ability should limit any child from learning the lifetime sport of tennis. That is why the USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship was developed. It provides solutions that help all children get physically active through tennis. 

How to Donate:

Help bring the love of tennis to more juniors in the Mid-Atlantic and help them reach big tennis goals. Support the Junior Player Scholarship by making a generous donation today. You can help the next junior player achieve big, just like Mikeal Carpenter. 

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.

Tennis Obsession in Middle Schools in the Mid-Atlantic

When you are a middle-schooler there are lots of different things to be obsessed with: the latest fashion trend, that post on social media, the hottest music, hilarious memes and so much more that dominate the world of tweens and teens of today. For some middle-schoolers in the Mid-Atlantic region, they are adding a different obsession to their list – tennis. 

As thousands of children participate in USTA Mid-Atlantic youth after school tennis in elementary schools and progress through the program, many are taking their tennis skills with them into middle school.  And many middle-schoolers are finding their love for tennis for the first time too. That’s why USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, began after school tennis in area middle schools to introduce the sport to more kids, and give those that have been playing an outlet to continue to pursue their game. It is fundamental to the mission of USTA Mid-Atlantic to offer programs such as these and, thanks to the support of donations, it enables us to offer them in a way that reduces barriers and makes tennis more accessible to all kids. 

middle-school-club-320x195In one local middle school in Loudoun County, Va., participants in the after school tennis program saw a new potential in themselves they never knew existed. Week after week, their tennis skills improved and they were becoming more confident in their game, so much so they set a goal to get to the next level – the high school tennis team. 

But to do that, they knew they would need to work hard and take their practice further. 

With the encouragement of their after school tennis coaches and USTA Mid-Atlantic, they created their own tennis club team. So far, more than 65 middle school youth have participated in the middle school tennis club

The club meets on Sundays for two hours and the focus is advancing the kids’ fundamentals of tennis strokes followed by team activities and matches. This allows the participants to bridge the gap between their learn-to-play experience and competition in a fun, low-pressure setting. 

And the work is paying off. 

Some of the middle school club members had the confidence to enter their first entry level USTA Junior Tournament this past spring, several practiced throughout the summer on a weekly basis, and some have continued to hone their skills with additional lessons.

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New shirts for the USTA Mid-Atlantic middle school club team

And now with school back in session, the club is practicing regularly. Recently this fall, 18 tennis club players from two different middle schools played each other in a friendly round robin competition in both singles and doubles matches. Using their improved skills from all the practice sessions, they were able to complete matches and see all their hard work come together in real match play experiences. At the end of the day, the players and coaches talked about the highs and lows of match play and shared best practices with their biggest takeaway – you must get your serve in! They celebrated their success with new team t-shirts and popsicles; a perfect ending to a good day on the tennis court.  

For all of the middle school tennis club participants, learning the sport and playing in a team setting is proving to be a powerful experience that is inspiring them to do more and to discover a new talent, maybe even an obsession, with tennis. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic wants to bring the power of tennis to more middle school students and children all across our region this school year through after school programs, but we need help to make this happen.

As the school year is just getting underway, your gift can make an immediate difference. Importantly, you can double your gift when you give thanks to an anonymous donor matching all donations up to $10,000 in 2019.

You can help change lives through the power of the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program. Give today.


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.