Spring into Tennis

With clean courts

We’ve all heard the term “spring cleaning” before. Generally, it is a time when individuals get rid of unwanted clutter in their lives. Spring cleaning initiates a new slate of opportunities where you can be productive in a clear space. 

Now think about how productive and impactful it would be to apply the spring cleaning method to your community tennis courts. At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we know that your community tennis court is like your second home. So let us help you create opportunities to make your second home – the tennis courts –  fresh for the new spring season. 

To help you get started, we have compiled a list of three things that you can do right now to prepare your community tennis courts and spring into the new tennis season. Take a look at the three simple steps to spring clean your tennis courts below: 

#1: Apply for a USTA Mid-Atlantic Facility Restoration Grant

Having safe, well-maintained places to play improves community well-being, enhances the attractiveness of neighborhoods, and provides access to the benefits of tennis for all community members. USTA Mid-Atlantic Section offers the Facility Restoration Grant which can provide up to $10,000 for tennis court construction and refurbishment. This grant can provide direct support to communities looking to spruce up their local courts. As a nonprofit organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic is able to provide this grant thanks to generous gifts by supporters like you. 

Depending on where you play tennis in your community, you may need to work with local community organizations on the application process. For example if you play tennis in your neighborhood and you have a Homeowners Association, you will need to work with them on the application. If you play tennis in your local park, go to your Park and Recreation Department and tell them about the funding opportunity and that the application is available. The pathways are endless to clean up your local courts and you’re doing your part to make tennis available for all. 

For more information on our grants and assistance, please click here. 

#2: Organize your own spring clean up day for your community tennis court

Earth day is right around the corner – April 22 to be exact. Organizing your own spring clean up day of your local community tennis courts would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day. 

Having a clean and refreshed court will encourage others to venture out to play more tennis. It may even help a player pick up a racquet for the first time when they see the immaculate conditions of their local tennis court.  

The best part about a spring clean up day for your community tennis court is that you don’t even need to have a lot of people! Start small by asking your friends and family to help you and then ask them to also spread the word. Whether it becomes a large or small turn out, with a few helping hands your court can get spruced up in no time. Plus, this will help spread your love for tennis to new levels. Your impact on cleaning up your local community court will help tennis be accessible for all.

#3: Share your love for tennis beyond the court

Become an advocate for the tennis courts in your community. You can work with your parks and recreation department or homeowners association to ensure that the tennis courts are regularly monitored and maintained. 

Advocating for your courts would include activities such as notifying the owners of the courts if repairs are needed such as cracks in the courts or damaged nets; mentioning funding resources such as the Facility Recovery grant, or organizing regular clean up days. Promoting accessible and welcome community courts helps ensure that all people can enjoy safe and maintained tennis courts.

USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being. When you participate in “spring cleaning” of your local community tennis courts, you will foster a welcoming environment for ALL to come and play tennis.  

If you’re looking to do more to grow tennis in your community, there are ample ways to get involved and make an impact. The courts will be waiting for you and we can’t wait to see you all there! 

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.

Four Ways to Develop New Friendships through Tennis

As we get older one thing remains true, everyone is in a constant cycle of change. 

People move, people get married, people travel, people start families, people take on new careers or businesses, there are many journeys that life takes us on as we go through adulthood. As your journey unfolds, you may find yourself in a place where you are searching for new friends and social connection. 

Making friends during childhood or the teen years is an important life-skill that develops and seems to come pretty easily. However, making friends as an adult when you’re way past those stages and don’t have free time on a playground, can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating. 

You may be wondering where to start and where to find those authentic friendships that will be fulfilling. Sometimes making new friends means connecting back to you and giving yourself the motivation to look inward to your passions and interests that maybe you’ve put aside, or it may mean you need to get out of your comfort zone and try something new to find new friendships. 

And that’s where tennis comes in! 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe tennis creates character, community, and well-being for ALL. With millions – 1.3 to be exact –  of people playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region, the community and network that is created and shared among tennis players is often one of the top reasons cited for playing the sport. The social aspect of tennis is undeniable. We hear countless stories of how tennis brings people together in unique ways to share in a common interest and passion. 

Plus, tennis is a lifetime sport so no matter what stage of life you are in, you can find yourself in the game and discovering new connections and relationships. 

Making friends in adulthood isn’t always easy, but we’ve got some tips that may help you find those besties and buddies you can’t live without all while getting to experience the health and well-being benefits tennis provides. 

Tip #1 Take a Chance and Put Yourself out There

Trying a new sport in your adult life can seem way more intimidating on the outside looking in. You don’t know the terminology, you may not know the rules, but what you can do is start small! 

You can find tennis programs in your local area that will help you learn the basics and begin in the sport. In these settings, you may be in a small group of adults all learning together and that can be the fun, shared experience that allows a friendship to form. In fact, check out this story of a group of strangers that started their tennis journey together and became a close-knit group of friends

Tip #2 Join a USTA League

If you’ve played tennis before or play on your own, USTA League may be the way to go to find new friends. USTA League is team-based and that means you have the opportunity to meet new people in your local area that share an interest in playing and competing recreationally in tennis. USTA League in the Mid-Atlantic has many different levels and age divisions where you can find your fit. USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is special because there are individuals from all walks of life that come together as a TEAM to help each other grow and learn. Not only do you get the chance to make new friends with your teammates, you may even find that your network gets wider as you play against different teams and opponents that you also start to get to know. Soon enough, you may find that your team on court becomes like a family off the court. 

Have you been looking to join a team? USTA Mid-Atlantic is here to help you get started. Check out the information we’ve made available. You can contact us through Tennis Connect if you need help finding a team.   

Tip #3 Volunteer with USTA Mid-Atlantic

Volunteers are what keep USTA Mid-Atlantic going as they are an intricate part of the growth of tennis in our region. Not only is volunteering a great way to get involved in your own community, it is also a great way to meet plenty of new people who enjoy the sport of tennis just as much as you do! Through volunteering you can become inspired and inspire others to put yourself out there, meet new people, and embrace the sport with full confidence. 

There are many ways to get involved and volunteer at local tennis events, community events, joining committees, and other USTA Mid-Atlantic projects; you can find the right fit for YOU. If you are interested visit our volunteer page to find out more.

#4 Start Up a Conversation

Do you have a child that plays tennis and you’re always at their matches and practices? Well this is a great chance to take the time to connect with other parents! Starting up a conversation with other parents while waiting for your child can be a great way to find a new connection. You could also organize a tennis parents meet up or lesson that runs while your children are learning in their class. Sparking new conversations at your local courts can bring new opportunities to connect with others who may have the same interest as you and your family. Tennis is a dynamic sport that can bring many new adventures all while having fun.

In the end, there could be a list of 20 different ways to foster new friendships through tennis but you will never truly know if you don’t take a leap of faith and try it out! In tennis, you have to put trust into the players next to you, it requires teamwork and communication which in turn can develop strong bonds and lifelong friends on and off the court. There are so many ways to get involved and the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is here to help you on this journey. We can’t wait to see you out on the courts soon! 

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.

Four Courts, Create Community

Community. It isn’t just a word in the name of Rappahannock Community College (RCC). It literally and figuratively is the center and central focus for this higher education institution in the rural area of Warsaw, Va. 

Founded in 1970, Rappahannock Community College [RCC] is more than just a school, it is a beacon for community vitality always at the ready to spur growth and continually meet the needs of the people, businesses, and industries in the areas they serve. RCC especially values being a catalyst and partner for opportunities to improve and revitalize the local area so that not only their students benefit, the community benefits as well. 

One such benefit to the community is the four tennis courts prominently located on the RCC campus, open and available for all to use. 

Although the community college does not have a designated tennis team, the tennis courts have been a fixture in the area and a place where you could always find an activity, meet up with a neighbor, and just have some fun. They are the only public tennis courts for the rural and economically challenged counties of Richmond, Westmoreland, Essex, and Northumberland with a collective population of just under 50,000.

“It was well-known that all were welcome on the courts and in-turn the courts were respected – people knew to turn the lights on, they turned them off and just fully enjoyed the space,” shared Dr. Shannon Kennedy, President of the Rappahannock Community College since 2019. 

Though having open access to the courts was an amazing opportunity for the community to play tennis and gain the benefits of the sport, the courts were coming to a point where they were worn down and in serious need of repair. In addition, there were two courts that were deemed completely off limits due to safety concerns. It was time to rebuild. 

Revitalizing the tennis courts fit into a larger vision for the economic redevelopment of downtown Warsaw. RCC and their partners recognized that updated tennis courts would offer a multi-generational gathering place and give people the opportunity for healthy living and community engagement. All people – retirees, youth, students and all in between – would have an improved and open place for tennis and daily activity. These tennis courts would also become the new home for the Rappahannock High School Tennis Teams.   

Many stakeholders got involved and championed the project. 

“I believe in working closely with the local school system, other higher education institutions, and industries in order to create and grow programs,” said Kennedy. “The best way possible to do something like this is to keep it as economically feasible for all partners. We want to show a collaborative spirit.

The collaborative spirit proved itself with the stakeholders, including RCC, pooling resources for the project. Everyone agreed that the tennis courts should be refurbished to the highest standards and done in a way that would preserve the maintenance of the courts long-term. 

But funding ran short.  That’s when the USTA Mid-Atlantic Tennis Court Refurbishment Grant created an additional pathway for RCC and their partners to push forward and finalize the project. 

With a grant for $10,000, they were able to use higher-quality materials, install a better surface and elevate the project to a new level, which ultimately could see big returns for the school and the community. In fact, some of the returns have started already.   

This past spring, the Rappahannock High School Girls Tennis team hosted District Championships on the new courts during which they came out victorious and made a run at the state championships. 

Kennedy shared that the new tennis courts are very active with people playing as early as 6 a.m. All-day long, individuals are soaking in the newness of the refurbished tennis courts, which were officially reopened in July. 

“Every time I pass by the courts, people are there – they are in constant use,” says Kennedy. “Our courts are bringing the community together, creating comradery, and instilling a sense of pride. They came at a good time.”

Moving forward, Richmond County is managing the use of the courts and implementing a variety of tennis programs, camps, and classes. There will even be an educational program for community college students interested in pursuing a career teaching physical education.   

“Tennis brings a lot of families and people together,” said Kennedy. “We’re hoping to have tournaments and bring people from outside the community to our courts. This is good for the college, the economy, and the community. The tennis courts are worth the investment and are looking at years of enjoyment to come.”  

Having four newly refurbished tennis courts open and available for public use has delivered on a promise to infuse vibrancy and spur community revitalization. With your support, the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis court refurbishment grant helped bring the courts and community to life. 

Make a gift to support our ongoing work helping more communities build and rebuild tennis courts, especially in under-resourced communities, so that more people can easily access the sport and all the benefits it provides. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.