Dream Season for 2.5 Team of Beginners

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success

Lifting the gate latch, Kristy walked onto the tennis court in Richmond, Va., for her very first USTA Mid-Atlantic League match. Never in her 40 years would she have expected to have arrived here. Her heart pounded with every step she took as she walked over to greet her doubles partner and opponents. She was so nervous and unsure what to expect. She had put the work in but did not know if it would pay off on her newly forged path as a 2.5 beginner league player. 

Kristy gave tennis a try because her young son decided he wanted to play and began learning the sport. 

“My 5-year-old son decided he wanted to try tennis and ended up loving it,” Kristy said.  “Seeing him enjoy the sport made me think it would be something fun for us to do together as he gets older.” 

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success on the court for this 2.5 team

She too began introductory lessons and made pretty good progress in her beginner’s group.  Soon after, Kristy was asked to join a 2.5 USTA League team in 2020. All of the women on the team were in the same boat, starting and learning the sport in their late 30s just like Kristy, and never playing in USTA League before. 

“I don’t know of any other sport that you can pick up later in life and pretty much play until you are well into your senior years. I truly feel like anyone can pick up a racquet and learn to play,” shared Kristy. 

The team was composed of people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, scientists, business owners, stay-at-home moms, all coming together and being put to the test during that fateful first USTA Mid-Atlantic League tennis match. 

Kristy won it decisively 6-1, 6-2 and remembers thinking to herself, “maybe I’ve got the hang of this now!” Her teammates thought similar thoughts having taken all three lines that day. 

But the dream season would have to wait – the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans and the season was cut short. 

“During the COVID shutdown, the outdoor courts at my club remained open and it seemed to be the one thing from ‘normal life’ I was able to keep doing,” expressed Kristy.

Tennis was becoming so much more of an important aspect of life for her than she could have imagined when she started her league tennis journey just a year prior. The well-being benefits of the sport emerged front and center, including social and emotional benefits. 

“As much as I love tennis, the social element has been one of my favorite benefits,” says Seredni. “Playing tennis, I have met so many exceptional ladies who I am now

lucky to call friends. Tennis has been the thing when you are having a rough day or week, you can always look forward to… I honestly can’t imagine my life now without tennis.”

Even though the 2020 season was short, Kristy and her team had 2021 in sight. 

Kristy commented, “we really started off as a group of strangers who very quickly became a tight-knit group of competitors. We were all so driven and excited and couldn’t wait to see what we could do. Our chemistry on the courts was off the charts and when we were off the courts we were celebrating births of babies, pregnancies, job promotions, really just supporting each other in life which I think was a huge part of why we were so successful.” 

Tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section brought them together and delivered on well-being benefits and connections on a deeper, social and emotional level.  

Well-being was key to tennis success for this 2.5 USTA Mid-Atlantic league team.

“Something just clicked,” Kristy recounted. “We all seemingly hit our stride at the same time going the entire 2021 League season never dropping a line.” 

This remarkable outcome for the FIRST full season of tennis for the team paved the way for a trip to USTA Mid-Atlantic Sectionals and all the way to the Championship match!  

Kristy’s team was crowned 2.5 Finalists in Mid-Atlantic for the Adult 18 & Over (.5) in 2021. A dream accomplishment many seasoned teams aspire to achieve. 

Thanks to USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creating a deeper well-being in Kirsty and in her teammates’ lives, they succeeded more than they could have imagined. 

“This past year, really throwing myself into USTA tennis, has been so incredibly rewarding.  From success on the court to meeting new people and making new friends, I have really enjoyed every minute on the courts…Whether you are looking to play for fun or looking for a competitive league, I promise you there is a league for you. And for people thinking about donating, do it!  Watching juniors learn the sport and love playing it is so much fun!  There are so many things for these kids to learn on a tennis court that will translate to life skills.” 

No matter when you start or your level of experience with the game, you can gain the well-being benefits tennis provides. And with YOUR help we can make sure more people, especially those without access to tennis, experience the incredible benefits of the sport through a variety of tennis programs and services from the USTA Mid-Atlantic. 

Make a tax-deductible gift today to support tennis programs in the Mid-Atlantic region that create community, character, and well-being for all. 

Plan for a Brighter Future of Tennis

So more players across the region have the opportunity to love the sport as much as you. 

What is your favorite part about playing tennis? 

This question is not as simple as it sounds. One may answer with “how much time do you have” because if someone gets you started on tennis they may need to cancel their afternoon plans. 

Tennis creates well-being, help grow tennis in the Mid-Atlantic today!

One thing that we can all agree on is that there are many reasons we get out on the court. Tennis is a lifetime sport that unlocks many benefits for you physically, socially and emotionally. Playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic enables you to create friendships that will last a lifetime, gets you physically fit, and can help reduce stress

Your love for tennis is everlasting. Now you have a chance to leave an everlasting impact and plan for a future of tennis for others to enjoy and love the sport long after you are gone. You can help continue to spread the love of tennis and make the sport accessible for all by showing your support to USTA Mid-Atlantic through planned giving and other gift arrangements.

Plus, now is a great time to plan for and prepare to leave your impact on Mid-Atlantic tennis because it is Estate Planning Week.

Every year, Estate Planning Week is celebrated as a way to promote financial wellness among all communities. The purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain the financial security of individuals throughout their lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets to intended individuals or organizations. 

During Estate Planning Week you can review your current plans to ensure they are aligned and reflect any updates you want to make, including ways to give back to tennis through USTA Mid-Atlantic. If you haven’t started planning, this is a week you can take steps to move forward in that work and get your estate plans established. Wherever you are in the process of Estate Planning, there are ways you can leave a legacy for tennis and show your support for the sport you love through: 

  • Planned Gifts: By including USTA Mid-Atlantic in your estate plans, you can continue to have an impact on our tennis community and leave a legacy of tennis for all to enjoy. Bequests are one of the simplest and most popular methods of gift planning.
  • Donor-Advised Fund (DAF): A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a charitable giving vehicle administered by a qualified public charity. Think of it as a philanthropic savings account. When you are ready, you can then recommend a grant to USTA Mid-Atlantic.
  • Gift of Stocks or Securities: Gifts of appreciated securities benefit USTA Mid-Atlantic while providing you with tangible tax benefits. Please consult your financial, tax, or legal advisor for more information.

Now that you have planned for a future of tennis, there are other ways to make an immediate impact beyond the net:

Help Grow Tennis in the Mid-Atlantic, give to tennis today.
  • Donate: Make a one-time gift or join THE SERVE SQUAD, with a recurring monthly donation online. Visit www.ustamasblog.com/donate for more information and ways to make your unrestricted gift to improve the region’s access to tennis’ unique health and social outcomes.
  • Make a tribute gift: You can make a donation in honor of someone whose love for tennis reached far beyond the court. Honor them by supporting the growth of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic so it can leave an equally powerful impact on the next generation of players. 
  • Match Your Gift: Employee matching gift programs are a great way to double or even triple your contribution to USTA Mid-Atlantic! Check with your human resources department to see if your employer has a matching gift program or use our Matching Gift Finder Tool.
  • Join the Creators Circle: Members of the Creators Circle are dedicated donors who provide gifts of $1,000 or more per year. These individuals receive personalized updates on the impact of their giving and invitations to engage in our virtual and in-person events.

Looking to get your company involved in supporting USTA Mid-Atlantic too?

Learn how to become a Net Positive Community Partner by contacting Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Partners receive year-round virtual benefits and personalized assistance from our staff to meet their philanthropic goals.

As you can see, there are many ways to plan for a future of tennis and give back to USTA Mid-Atlantic and advance the sport you know and love. Give future generations of players the opportunity to experience their own love of tennis and ensure the sport can provide lasting benefits for years to come. Show your support today or by planning for the future. Together we can make tennis available for ALL. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn more about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

Tennis Court

More Ways to Succeed with Your Tennis Team

Fundraising Challenges Offer a New Way to Compete

USTA Mid-Atlantic introduced the first fundraising challenge for the tennis community – the Summer Smash – in 2021 as a way for teams to come together to raise money to support tennis in local communities and the vital work USTA Mid-Atlantic does as a non-profit to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region and bring the life-long benefits of tennis to everyone.

USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis league championship

This fundraising challenge brought tennis friends together to give back and do something actionable and meaningful together for a good cause. Individuals and teams came together to rally their communities and networks to donate. As the fundraising went on top achievers earned badges and prizes both as individuals and as a team.

So who stepped up and smashed the 2021 Summer Smash Fundraising Challenege? 

Congratulations to the top THREE fundraisers: 

  • 1st Place: Robin Sanford 
  • 2nd Place: Jenny Hein
  • 3rd Place: Joshua Padgett
One prize pack that was given to the winners of the Summer Smash Challenge

Thank you to Community Event Partner, Ruger’s Wafers LLC for sponsoring the 2021 challenge! Thank you to our partners for supporting the challenge with prizes and SWAG for the top fundraisers! 

  • Doukenie Winery
  • Hit Happy
  • Marriott Newport News City Center
  • M. Price Distributing Company
  • Ruger’s Wafers LLC
  • Tennis Warehouse
  • The Spoiled Office
  • TopCourt
  • Vitalyte 
  • Wilson

The next fundraising challenge will be in spring 2022.

You may be wondering why you should participate in something like this.

Here are a few reasons to participate in a tennis fundraising challenge: 

  • It feels good to do something good. We can all use a little bit of feeling good right now. When your team or friends (or even if you are on your own) participate in the challenge you can feel good knowing that you are helping others in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia experience tennis and the benefits of the sport. Many people don’t have access to tennis and your fundraising will help change that.
  • Your raised funds will really help. The money you raise will make it easier for someone to learn or play tennis just like you. You will be lowering the barriers to entry and will help make tennis more accessible in communities that are under-resourced. 
  • Competition. Friendly competition on the tennis courts is fun, and now fundraising for tennis gives you a chance to get competitive off the court too. There are challenge levels to hit and unlock badges, prizes to earn, and you could WIN big by going big with your efforts. Be a winner! 

Now we know you all love a good challenge and great competition (and probably want to WIN!) so to have success we’ve put together five tips for a successful fundraiser. 

  1. 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. 
  2. Invite your fellow tennis players to join your fundraising team so that together you can reach your goal.
  3. Share your fundraising page with family and friends and ask them to help you reach your goal. 
  4. Share your page in a text message, on your Facebook page or Instagram page or even send an email! Friends help friends that ask! 
  5. 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! 

How to get started?

When we have a fundraising challenge, it is easy to join in and set up your fundraising page and/or team. Follow these steps:

USTA Mid-Atlantic League women's team photo
  1. Click the sign up button on the top right side of the fundraising challenge event page. We will provide a link when the challenge is announced.
  2. Choose whether you want to fundraise as an individual or start a team.
  3. Personalize your page with your tennis story, photos and videos.
  4. Ask your friends and tennis teammates to join your team; you can send them a custom link to sign up on your dashboard. 
  5. Share your fundraising page with friends and family asking them to support you so that more people can experience the benefits of tennis. 

Questions? Contact Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development, cvargas@mas.usta.com

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. We envision a community where tennis is accessible and available for all people to play. USTA Mid-Atlantic has wide-reaching impact. We operate leagues, tournaments and other programs and events throughout the region for over 28,000 adult and youth members. We support the community providers, facilities and coaches that directly deliver the sport. The many health and social benefits of tennis have made it more popular than ever, and USTA Mid-Atlantic’s programs and outreach are rising to meet that demand. Click here to read the additional terms and conditions for the Summer Smash Fundraising event.

Serving Off Court: Taste of the Mid-Atlantic With Keswick Vineyards

You’ve baked bread, you’ve binge-watched shows, you’ve cleaned out the junk drawer, you’ve organized all your photos, you’ve finally finished that puzzle you started in March, you’ve played all the board games, you’ve attempted to video your best tennis trick shot. Now what? 

The coronavirus pandemic continues and while we are making a return to some daily activities outside of the home including playing tennis (safely), it is still important for people to find ways to maintain social distance and follow prevention measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

And for many of us, that means continuing to stay at home, which also means finding new ways to stay entertained while continuing to stay at home.  

USTA Mid-Atlantic has a fresh way you can add some fun to your at-home activities AND give back to support the growth of tennis when you do! 

Our “Taste of Mid-Atlantic” virtual wine tasting event

This event is part of USTA Mid-Atlantic’s #ServeItForward campaign. #ServeItForward celebrates the power of tennis in the recovery process and provides opportunities for individuals to lend support to the sport and charitable tennis programs that help improve lives in our region through tennis. 

We are partnering with Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville, Va., for the event on Saturday, June 27.  They will donate 15% of sales for the virtual wine tasting event to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section to support our charitable tennis programs (more details follow about how to RSVP and order the wine tasting package).

We recently caught up with the Winemaker and Tasting Room Manager at Keswick Vineyards, Stephen Barnard to learn more about Keswick and prepare for the upcoming event. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: How did you get involved with wine and this winery? What do you do for them?

Stephen: My journey into wine began while studying at Elsenburg College in South Africa.  I needed a part-time job so I started working in the tasting room at Groot Constantia Winery, the oldest winery in South Africa. 

In 2002, I received an opportunity through The Ohio State University to intern with Keswick Vineyards. At the time, Virginia was not known for wine because wine production was fairly new in the state. It was a very interesting opportunity.   

Keswick Vineyards first planted in 2000 and had its first vintage in 2002. I had the opportunity to work with the first harvest and first wines Kewswick ever produced. I learned quickly that there is a lot more to making wine than what I learned at university. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What do you think people should know about the winery? What makes it special?

Stephan: Keswick Vineyards is owned and operated by Al and Cindy Schomberg and family. Everyone in the family is involved in the business and has a role – from daily operations to marketing to even growing and producing the wine. 

We are all very passionate about wine. We recognize that first and foremost that we are in the hospitality business and work hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the wine and the atmosphere. Hopefully, you can taste our love for making wine in every bottle. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: If someone is new to wine, what would you tell them when trying wine?

Stephan: We help deconstruct the wine during tastings so that it is approachable because at the end of the day it’s just fermented grape juice! So don’t be afraid of wine. Trust your palette and trust your nose.  Drink what you enjoy. Finally, what makes it an experience is sharing a wine you enjoy with someone you enjoy. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What if someone has tasted lots of wine, what would you tell them?

Stephan: What you want you to taste in the glass is how the grape was grown. Wine should communicate a sense of place. You want to make a wine that smells and tastes of where the grape is grown. The soil, elevation, and everything that goes with the grape needs to be expressed in the glass of wine, that is what makes it unique. Wine should be both emotional and intellectual. 

At Keswick, we seek to challenge the stereotype of a varietal to highlight what makes the grape distinctive and unique. You may know what you like or think about a particular varietal but we want to challenge that by helping you discover something new. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What are your top tips for a good tasting experience?

Stephan: Enjoy the wine – should be fun, engaging, and informative. Also, a good wine needs a good glass; stemware is important!

USTA Mid-Atlantic: How do you approach making wine? 

Stephan: At the end of the day we are farmers and at the mercy of the weather. We are winegrowers, not winemakers; that is at the core of what great wine is. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What is your favorite part about working in the wine industry?

Stephan: People and interactions are the best part of working with wine. I get the most satisfaction from people experiencing and enjoying the wine. That is what makes wine intriguing. I love meeting people that don’t know anything about wine and helping them find what they enjoy. It’s also exciting to challenge a seasoned wine drinker by helping them change their mind about a wine they thought they maybe didn’t like as much before. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What is the biggest misnomer or myth to debunk about Virginia wine?

Stephan:  Virginia doesn’t produce a lot of wine so it isn’t as widely distributed, but that doesn’t mean that Virginia doesn’t make world class wine!  There are some great varietals that Virginia does very well and better than other places. Also, Virginia wine is very competitively priced especially since there isn’t as much produced in the state as compared to California. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you play tennis? Or have you played tennis?

Stephan: I have played some tennis recreationally. Both my father and grandfather played back in South Africa. I have long supported South African players. I love watching it, there is just so much skill involved!

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What do you admire about the work of USTA Mid-Atlantic?

Stephan: Tennis teaches you a lot about dedication, discipline, and hard work. I love how grassroots the youth tennis programming is and how USTA MAS really is following through to develop and promote the growth of the sport. It’s easy for kids to get involved with sports like football, baseball, or basketball, but USTA MAS does a great job getting more younger players involved in tennis. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you think tennis has the power to change the world?

Stephan: Yes, because sports don’t discriminate.  Tennis can bring so many backgrounds and people together. It fosters a sense of community in challenging times and in happy times. It is healing for those that play sports and those that watch them without a doubt. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Do you have any final thoughts ?

Stephan: We are very excited about this opportunity and bringing people together through wine and tennis and being together as a community! 

EVENT DETAILS 

To learn more about Keswick Vineyards, please visit: https://www.keswickvineyards.com/

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Serving Off the Court: A Perspective on Healing Through Tennis

By, Deirdre Hughes

As a black woman living in a diverse metropolitan community, I don’t face a daily barrage of overt racism. Instead, I encounter the slow, steady drip of microaggressions and bias that wear on my mind and soul. Regular occurrences like the glares of disdain from my neighbors as I walk in my own neighborhood; Starbucks Barista moving the tip jar when I step up to the counter or the co-worker telling me that racism “isn’t a thing.” My experience, it’s like death by a thousand pin-pricks. 

Our current times have generated high stress and anxiety across the nation, in the local Mid-Atlantic region and around the globe. In the African American community, high blood pressure and diabetes are prevalent; African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, according to the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Studies suggest that these chronic diseases are also linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. Further, research that links experiences of racism with poor mental health is emerging. 

Fortunately, one of my best strategies for combating stressful experiences is tennis.

My tennis story begins on the public tennis courts in Buffalo, N.Y.  My uncle, who is also a tennis player, gave me my first racquet as a Christmas gift when I was in middle school. That following summer, I started learning tennis in a free tennis summer camp sponsored by the Buffalo Department of Parks and Recreation.

My passion for the sport started during those summers. Over the years I played tennis every once in a while. Then in 2011, I started taking lessons again when my job’s wellness benefit covered tennis lessons. Over time, as I saw improvement in my play, I began playing more and more. 

Currently, I am a 3.0 player but I prefer to play at 3.5. I am a singles player but I will play doubles from time to time. I have played on various teams around the Washington, D.C. metro region in addition to playing in USTA Sanctioned tournaments. My biggest tennis accomplishments to date include an undefeated season in 6.0 Mixed Doubles and winning the January 2019 Ladies 3.0 Singles Simkins Indoor NTRP tournament in Greensboro, N.C.  

For me, tennis is an escape and outlet from the daily stresses of my life. Nothing else matters when I step onto a tennis court. From my first strike of the ball, I can feel all my anxiety melt away and my problems temporarily disappear. After I finish playing, I am relaxed and positive, and ready to once again tackle my everyday life.

Tennis also helps my mental acuity. I love the challenge of thinking through a match, problem-solving, self-evaluating, and correcting mistakes. These skills don’t just reside on the tennis court but are skills that I use in my professional life as a marketing manager at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Further, tennis aids in developing mental toughness and resilience. Two very important traits needed to navigate our world.

It’s important not to underestimate the power of tennis. Tennis is unlike any other sport;  a lifelong sport that offers physical and mental benefits. Just read Dr. Jack Groppel’s 34 Reasons to Play Tennis and listen to the webinars he held with us at USTA Mid-Atlantic recently and you’ll gain an understanding of the physical and psychological reasons to play the sport.

While playing tennis cannot solve systemic issues such as racism, it can, however, aid in relieving stress and improving overall health. Tennis can foster connections, communication, and community. Healthy minds and bodies create healthy communities. 

Tennis can help all people  – socially, emotionally, and physically. 

And it is with this very belief USTA Mid-Atlantic works hard to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region for ALL people and communities. Tennis can help as part of a recovery process and the #ServeItForward campaign is in progress to support this effort.

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Resources:

https://www.anxiety.org/black-americans-how-to-cope-with-anxiety-and-racism

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20191204/african-americans-face-unique-mental-health-risks

https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/fitness-and-exercise/tennis#:~:text=Joan%20Finn%20did%20a%20study,other%20athletes%20or%20non%2Dathletes.

https://www.active.com/tennis/articles/five-benefits-of-tennis

https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=18