Tennis creates community, character and well-being

Communities Thrive with Tennis

“Practically unplayable and just not safe.” That’s how the tennis courts at Radford High School in Radford City, Va., used to be described. The cracks were so bad that when students and community members played tennis there, one would never know where their shot may go. Hit a crack, and the ball would fly out of control. But not any more.

Radford City, Va., is a small, rural area of just 9.2 square miles. Nearly 40 percent of the population is in poverty. The local public school system has one of the lowest Composite Index in the state, which means a limited ability to pay for the cost of education and facility upgrades. But, the Superintendent of Radford City Schools shared that this isn’t something that deters them from pursuing great things. 

“We have so much pride here in Radford City and all that pride is centrally focused around our schools,” said Superintendent Robert Graham. “Our schools are integral in our community and for the well-being of our citizens.” 

A prominent aspect of the community is the tennis courts at the high school. Sitting on a main thoroughfare, the courts are highly visible and in high demand. The courts are open to the public and used by the high school, intermediate school, and the community. From tennis in PE class to team practice and after school programs, to lessons, camps and recreational play, tennis is something the Radford City community rallies around. When the courts got so run down and unsafe to play on, that’s when Superintendent Graham knew something should be done. 

“We had to repair the courts so that the children and community could have a safe place to play tennis right in their own town. We saw the value the courts add to our community and how they could enhance liveability for residents and appeal to those considering moving here. Our challenge was that the cost to repair the courts was high and it was hard to find a bid that would align with our budget.”  

That’s where the USTA Mid-Atlantic Facility Restoration Grant came into play. As a nonprofit organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic provides grant support for public tennis court construction and refurbishment projects because of your generous support. Together we are making a difference. 

When you give $100, you help communities like Radford City and the people that live there build community with tennis. Can you make a gift to help more people in more communities have access to quality public tennis courts? 

“The funds from the grant allowed us to do so much more with the courts than we would have been able to on our own. Not only did we resurface and make the courts safe and playable, we were able to incorporate our school logo and use the school colors on the surface. We also added new windscreens with the mascot name that exudes school spirit and community pride.” 

But these courts didn’t just become better looking – something special happened

Superintendent Graham indicated that more students than ever joined the Radford High School tennis teams for boys and girls. While historically a strong program they maxed the rosters for the teams and the boys made it to the VHSL Class 1/2 boys tennis state semifinals. 

“Now you hear people describe the courts as “beautiful” and a “showstopper” and they are full of players of all ages. People are really enjoying the way the courts are playing and earlier in the summer we had a sold-out youth tennis camp on these courts. The new surface helped slow things down so the kids could learn. We could not have done this without the support of USTA Mid-Atlantic and the Facility Restoration Grant,” Robert shared. 

Robert also shared that other school systems in neighboring counties inquired about the tennis courts and how they can do the same thing. This fall Radford City will hold a re-dedication and naming ceremony for the tennis courts. 

Your gift of $100 can help make communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic liveable and active, with high quality tennis courts open and accessible to all. Your gift supports community, character, and well-being that only tennis can provide.  

Chances are you may even know a similar community in need of help with refurbishing tennis courts. Think about how YOU can keep tennis vibrant and flourishing in the Mid-Atlantic region for ALL people for years to come. Please give to the sport that you love so that others can experience community, character, and well-being benefits from tennis well into the future. 

With gratitude, 

Kathy Renzetti


USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors

PS: Consider making your gift a monthly recurring gift, and join The Serve Squad, where each month YOU are able to make an impact and feel good about the difference we are making together through tennis! Look for the option to make a monthly gift on the reply card and online.

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