Unique Partnership Breaks Down Barriers to Tennis

Building confidence. Developing character. Acquiring the skills needed to become productive, responsible adults.

That’s what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) strives to do for the youth in their clubs.

These aspects are also what USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, delivers to young people through the sport of tennis, while also giving kids a physical outlet and path to friendships and fun that can stay with them for a lifetime. USTA Mid-Atlantic depends on contributions and donations to succeed on the mission to not only grow tennis but to change lives and improve communities through the sport.

With synergies apparent, USTA Mid-Atlantic and BGCGW partnered together during the summer of 2018 to bring tennis to kids age 5 – 18 that did not have access to the sport. Nearly half of the population served by BGCGW lives at or below poverty level, and in populations such as these, most don’t have access to tennis. Thanks to the USTA Mid-Atlantic, more than 400 of these kids got the feel of the racquet, most for the very first time.

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USTA Mid-Atlantic delivered tennis to two BGCGW locations including the Culmore Club and the Martin K. Alloy Club of Manassas. For the Culmore club, participants came from Bailey’s Elementary, Glasgow Middle School and Glen Forest Elementary, in Fairfax County, Va. Counselors-in-training also joined, all of which were from Justice High School in Falls Church, Va. For the Martin K. Alloy Club at least 20 different schools were represented as part of Prince William County Public School District, Manassas City School District, or Manassas Park City School District.

Over the course of 10 weeks, USTA Mid-Atlantic delivered tennis summer camp programming, which introduces tennis through fun and enriching experiences, incorporates STEM concepts and builds life skills such as respect, honesty, decision-making and sportsmanship through the game.20180817_105322-1242007325-1540390083859.jpg

USTA Mid-Atlantic provided verified and trained coaches to run the tennis programming along with the racquets, balls, curriculum and fun. The children didn’t just learn how to hit forehands and backhands. They learned about the benefits that come with playing tennis, such as:

  • Tennis is great exercise. It uses every muscle in the body and is a sport that they can play for their entire life;
  • Anyone can play tennis no matter their ability, and families can play together;
  • Sportsmanship, honesty and friendship are the all at the forefront of playing tennis.

Thanks to grant funding secured by USTA Mid-Atlantic, the tennis program was provided to the participants of the BGCGW at no cost.

“Because of the USTA Mid-Atlantic program over the summer, our kids were able to get exposed to a sport that they would not normally get the opportunity to participate in,” said Yolanda Gales, program director for Culmore Boys & Girls Club. “While it was hot and at times the weather seemed to not be as dry as they would have liked, they all enjoyed going out and being allowed to hit balls with each other while learning different techniques.”20180817_105251-2643274327-1540389946660.jpg

For USTA Mid-Atlantic, it is the highest priority to have all children in the Mid-Atlantic play tennis and experience the life-long benefits that come from the game – no matter their background, zip code, resources or ability.

“Our vision is that every child in the Mid-Atlantic plays tennis because we see first-hand how the sport transforms lives and helps kids gain qualities that will serve them on and off the tennis court,” said Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, chief executive officer of USTA Mid-Atlantic. “We were excited to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington because together we were able to break down barriers and help kids find new qualities in themselves that they may not ever have imagined were there by sampling a new sport.”

Gales said some kids enjoyed learning the ins and outs of a new sport as well as being exposed to something different.

“Getting the kids involved in something out of their norm is what the Boys & Girls Clubs attempts do with partnerships like the one with USTA Mid-Atlantic,” Gales said. “Most of our elementary and middle schoolers are not given the opportunity to play sports after school unless they are playing for the Boys & Girls Club. And because most of our children come from below poverty income households, getting exposed to anything outside of what they are able to play in their front yards seems impossible to obtain.”

Gales is grateful that USTA Mid-Atlantic invested in the future of hundreds of local kids and is hopeful that the partnership will continue.

“We would love to have the opportunity to have USTA Mid-Atlantic come again during the school year,” she said.

This school year, USTA Mid-Atlantic is delivering their tennis programming after school in both Prince William and Fairfax counties, with hopes of expanding into many of the schools that serve the BGCGW participants. With tennis programming being provided immediately following the school day within school buildings, the organization aims to create a safe environment that gives kids a positive outlet and shows them the way to healthy habits for life and continues the lessons learned during the summer.

But support is needed to make programs like the one delivered this summer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington available for low to no-cost to the students in these under-resourced communities.

With your help, USTA Mid-Atlantic can bring more tennis programs to these kids and meet the goal of reaching 4,256 youth with after school tennis programming and enrichment. You can show your support by making a donation today.  


 

Harry Holtzclaw is an intern with USTA Mid-Atlantic. Harry is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management from James Madison University.

 

 

Fun DIY Halloween Decorations – Tennis Themed

One thing tennis lovers know is that there is always a creative way to reuse dead tennis balls.  With Halloween season upon us, we’ve put together three spooktacular DIY Halloween decorations you can do with those scary dead tennis balls lurking in your basement, garage, trunk or bag.

We found these DIY craft projects are great activities to do with kids or grand kids or even during a Halloween party as an activity station.

Tennis coaches and tennis clubs, you can incorporate these craft projects into a Halloween-themed tennis lesson or tennis tournament for kids too.

So let’s raise the dead (ahem tennis balls that is) and have some Halloween fun making these awesome tennis inspired DIY Halloween tennis ball decorations.

DIY Halloween Tennis Ball Craft 

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What you need: 1

1 can of tennis balls
Glue
Scissors
4 googly eyes
Orange, green and black markers
3-4 pipe cleaners
1 piece of colored paper
Bottle tops (Gatorade or milk container tops recommended)

 

Start by making the base for the three Tennis Ball Halloween figures by gluing a bottle top to the bottom of each tennis ball.

Grab your markers and color 1 ball green, 1 ball orange and 1 ball black.

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Witch!

Step 1: Grab the green tennis ball on base; the top to the tennis ball can, glue, paper, scissors, 2 eyes, green marker and a pipe cleaner.

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Step 2: Take your paper and cut out a half moon shape. 6

Step 3: Roll the half-moon shape to form a cone.

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Tip – Stapling the corners together will secure it quickly

Step 4: Glue the cone to the top of the tennis ball can – you made a witch’s hat!

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Step 5: Glue the witch’s hat to the tennis ball.

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Tip – Tilt the hat a little off to the side so that your eyes fit later

Step 6: Take a pipe cleaner and cut it in half. Take half of the pipe cleaner and fold it over two times, twist together to keep secure – you made a witch’s nose! Glue the nose to the tennis ball.


Step 7: Glue 2 googly eyes to the tennis ball – good job! You’re tennis ball witch is complete!

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Pumpkin!

Step 1: Grab the orange tennis ball on base; the other half of the pipe cleaner you just cut for the witch’s nose, glue, and the black marker.

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Step 2: Take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half two times, twist together to keep secure and glue onto the top of your tennis ball.

Step 3: Take the black marker and draw on your pumpkin face. Whew! That was a quick one – you made a tennis ball pumpkin!

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Let’s make a Tennis Ball Bat!

Step 1: Grab the black tennis ball, 2 pipe cleaners, glue, and 2 googly eyes.

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Step 2: Glue on your two googly eyes to the front of the tennis ball.

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Step 3: Take a pipe cleaner and twist it closed at the end to make a loop. Do this to both pipe cleaners.

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Step 4: Create indentations in the bottom of the pipe cleaner to form the bat wings. Do this to both pipe cleaners. You made bat wings!

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Step 5: Glue the bat wings to the left and right side of your tennis ball. YAY! A tennis ball bat!

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Step 6: Bonus step if you have any extra pieces of pipe cleaners. Cut two 1” pieces of pip cleaner and bend to form a triangle. Add these two “bat ears” to the top of your tennis ball.

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Enjoy your tennis ball witch, pumpkin and bat to decorate your house for this haunting holiday – Happy Halloween!


Shell Wood is the Events Manager for USTA Mid-Atlantic. She enjoys crafting and repurposing items to bring a little pizzazz to our events.

Wimbledon Today, Zonals Tomorrow; Othmane Garma Does It All

We got the chance to chat with Sloane Stephens’ traveling tour coach and USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Othmane Garma, also known as “OG.” Since Garma joined her team 13 months ago, she’s had her most significant results ever. The 25-year-old won her first-ever Grand Slam at the 2017 US Open and, was runner-up at the French Open. While that is impressive, what’s really stand-out is that Garma doesn’t just coach pros. His passion for the game spills into youth tennis as well.

Othmane Garma remembers idolizing professional players and coaches as a 10-year-old kid. Coming to the United States from Morocco at 14 years old, he had two goals in mind: learn English well enough to make friends and earn a full scholarship to a Division I school for tennis. Luckily, J.E.B. Stuart’s high school tennis coach James Holocombe took Garma under his wing, and made both a reality.

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Coach Othmane Garma is making an impact through tennis both with pro players and Mid-Atlantic Juniors alike

“I’ve been very fortunate to have the right voices around me and good people around me that want to see me develop as not only a tennis player but a human being,” said Garma, who grew up in Falls Church, Virginia. “Holocombe helped me learn English and do homework, drove me to tennis lessons, and he saw my passion for tennis.”

Garma had offers from George Mason, Howard, South Florida, and UNC Wilmington but knew he wanted to stay close to the D.C. area that gave him so much. He chose Howard, hoping to play on the ATP tour afterward. But after six months, he realized he didn’t have the financial resources to play professionally, so he turned to coaching.

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Coach Murray Kamau, Sloane Stephens and Coach Othmane Garma

He worked with as many as 40 players a week and generated approximately $110,000 for the Arlington YMCA Tennis Center. He moved on to coaching top juniors and was so successful, he advanced to working with professionals.

One of them was Treat Huey, a University of Virginia graduate who would eventually partner with Max Mirnyi.

“Traveling on the ATP world tour with Othmane helped me have the best season of my career, reaching the Wimbledon semifinals and qualifying for the ATP world tour finals,” Huey said. “His positive attitude was instrumental in the improvement I’ve had in my game.”

Huey and Mirnyi were a top 20 team under Garma, but that didn’t prepare him for the heights he’s attained coaching Sloane Stephens, ranked No. 4 in the world.

“I never pictured in my entire life that I would be holding a U.S. Open trophy as a coach,” said Garma, who works alongside Murray Kamau on Stephens’ team. “Everybody did their role. I was super grateful to be able to see her reach the success she deserves and for me and Coach Kamau, it was a proud moment.”

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Garma and Stephens after victory at the U.S. Open

When Stephens won the U.S. Open last September, she was ranked 83rd, the lowest ranked woman to ever win the title and the first American since 2002.

“Coach Othmane has been a great addition to our team, and his positive approach to everything he does makes him an incredible asset,” Stephens said.

 

 

While Garma continues to thrive as a coach, he’s sticking true to his roots by staying involved in the Mid-Atlantic. At the end of July, Garma will put his pro coaching career on pause and travel to Cary, North Carolina to coach the Mid-Atlantic team at the USTA Southern Zonals. He’ll be working with elite boys and girls, in a format that allows Garma to coach on court during the matches — something he’s looking forward to.

“I’m super excited and really looking forward to connecting with the kids and being able to give back,” Garma said. “I want to inspire them and teach them through experience.”

Talking to Garma, you’ll often hear him use the word “inspire,” along with “motivate” and “create.” In his eyes, those three words strung together are what life is about. Those words are why he’ll be traveling to coach 14-year-olds in the same month that he’s coaching Stephens at Wimbledon.

“I don’t look at it as I’m coaching an amateur or a professional; it’s about delivering the same message in 100 ways depending on the person,” Garma said. “I’m coaching an athlete to be the best they can be and it’s still around tennis.”

While Garma continues to influence the Mid-Atlantic and the WTA tour, life just gave him another opportunity to have an even bigger impact. On June 13th, his wife, Gabriela Falcon, gave birth to their first child, Skyla Jolie Garma.

“I am so excited to introduce baby Skyla to the sport that has done so much for me as soon as she hits the age of 3,” said Garma. “It’ll be her decision to choose what sport she loves and I’ll support her with all the resources I have and more.”


Harry Holtzclaw is an intern with USTA Mid-Atlantic. Harry is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management from James Madison University.

 

 

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.

Tennis Providers: Earn a FREE Net Generation Tablet from USTA Mid-Atlantic

Don’t miss out! Make sure you and your programs are listed and searchable on NetGeneration.com.

As a Net Generation provider, you know you’ve got the expertise of the USTA, world-class coaching curriculum and innovative digital tools all available to you to help you do incredible things to get kids into tennis.

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Net Generation coaches are shaping the future of tennis! Join them and get free tools and resources. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic wants to make sure you don’t miss out on these great benefits and all that Net Generation has to offer, especially the Program Management Center. This is where you can list all of your programs so that parents seeking tennis instruction and fun for their kids can find you!

Add your programs to the Net Generation Program Management Center and you can be eligible to receive a Tablet ($150) pre-loaded with the Net Generation app from USTA Mid-Atlantic. We’re giving away up to 50 tablets, so hurry and get your programs listed by Friday, July 27.

Requirements to be eligible:

  1. Sign up as a provider on Net Generation and complete all of the registration steps, including approval of your NCSI background screen or complete the process if you have not done so.
  2. Agree to the provider standards in your provider profile. Once logged in to Net Generation, access the Provider Menu and click “Edit Profile.” The checkbox to accept the provider standards is at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Post a public youth tennis program on Net Generation. To be eligible, your program must start between July 1, 2018 and September 30, 2018. For additional information on how to access the Program Management Center, click here.
  4. Programs must be entered prior to July 27, 2018. We have 50 tablets available so post today so you can get your hands on one!

All types of tennis providers have shared how useful the Net Generation tools have been, such as the tennis professionals at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center (MNTC) in Williamsburg, Va. They said, “MNTC loves Net Generation because it is an all-encompassing yet simplified and universal developmental platform for kids to succeed in tennis.  We love the ease and applicability of the assessments, competencies and curriculum. Net Generation connects our parents, players & coaches which will only continue to grow not only our junior programs, but tennis worldwide.”

For questions or assistance, please email Natalie Rogers at rogers@mas.usta.com.

Review the Summer Tablet Promotion_Official Rules.