A Reason Why

We caught up with David K., an active donor to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, and talked to him about his reasons why he supports the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. 

How long have you been playing tennis? What do you love about the sport? 

David K.: I started playing tennis in my teens, then later while I was in the U.S. Air Force in Berlin, Germany.  Following my military service, I attended college and went to work as a defense contractor from which I was deployed to many locations throughout the world.  No matter where you go, no matter what country; no matter the environment, you can always find someone who plays tennis. If you cannot find a court, there is always a wall to practice on. In 2018 I decided to try refereeing. This has proven to be a great way to stay in the game and help our youth, plus the referee has the best seat in the house! You can’t get any closer to good tennis!

Why do you choose to donate to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section? 

David K.: I like to support organizations that I know will put donations to good use and I like to help the youth of today become our leaders for tomorrow. 

Do you feel you are helping make a difference? How? 

David K.: Being a referee in the Mid-Atlantic Section, one has the opportunity to see first hand where the donations go as well as watching our youth compete and improve their skills.

You can show support and directly impact and improve access to tennis for all people in the Mid-Atlantic region by making a tax-deductible donation to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. 

Already a donor? What are your reasons why you support USTA Mid-Atlantic? Get in touch and share your “why.” We’d love to feature your story too!

Top Things we are Thankful For About Tennis

At  USTA Mid-Atlantic we often say tennis is so much more than a game played with a racquet and ball. We believe tennis is a culture, a community and a passion that builds character, enhances your life and makes you who you are.

With the Thanksgiving season here, we started thinking and talking about the sport we love and why we are so thankful to not only be working to grow the game and get more we-love-mid-atlantic-tennispeople playing but also simply why we. LOVE. Tennis. So. Much!

So we started a list of things about tennis we are so thankful for and appreciate. By reflecting on this appreciation we hope more people can understand why tennis is special and feel motivated to show their support during the charitable giving season to ensure all people in the Mid-Atlantic region, especially children, get to experience the benefits of a game that gives back in so many ways. Our list is by no means complete so we definitely want to hear from you on what you would add too. Here goes:

Tennis makes us thankful for…. 

What would you add to the list that we have not included? Leave a comment or tweet us (@USTAMidAtlantic) with your comment using #ThankfulforTennis.

 

This is Mid-Atlantic Tennis: Rebekah Noll

This post is part of a series that tell the stories of how tennis has influenced people’s lives in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Meet Rebekah Noll, a USPTA Tennis Professional, Net Generation verified coach and director of tennis at the Crosswhite Athletic Club in Lynchburg, Va. Rebekah was honored by the USPTA with the U30 Award. Read on and you’ll know why. 

In August, at the 2018 United States Professional Teaching Association’s (USPTA) Annual Awards, local Mid-Atlantic teaching professional Rebekah Noll received the U30 USPTA Award. Noll, Director of Tennis at the Crosswhite Athletic Club in Lynchburg, Va., traveled to New York to be awarded this prestigious honor for her accomplishments as a tennis teaching professional. TTC_2018_Noll_resize

Noll, became a director of tennis at the age of 23, and is part of the USPTA Under 30 Initiative. She has dedicated herself to building and maintaining the tennis community at the Crosswhite Athletic Club.

“I was speechless when Gary Trost, the president of USPTA, called to tell me I won this award,” Noll said. “I could not believe a small town coach in Central Virginia even had a chance up against big time tennis professionals in Texas, Florida and California.”

Noll, in addition to successfully creating a Club League program and the first ever (part-time) tennis academy in Lynchburg, has expanded the youth program to include the USTA youth progression pathway. Youth at Crosswhite can now participate in a USTA entry level tournament each month, run by Noll and her team, to earn youth progression points so that each player is able to “level up.” Noll and her fellow teaching professionals also have the Net Generation app on hand to plan their practices and do progress evaluations on each player to keep them engaged.

“Every coach needs to have a youth progression training funnel. Different sessions for different levels of player, so that they get quality practice, while also encouraging new players to work hard to get to that next level,” she said. Net Generation is a really great way to get your program information out there for potential clients looking for a certified coach.”

Noll grew up in Sarasota, Florida, competing alongside her sister, Jordan Jenkins, as they trained at various tennis academies in Florida and became nationally ranked juniors. Her weekends were filled with traveling to tennis tournaments in the family minivan like many youth participating in USTA tournaments. As a college student and member of the Liberty University women’s tennis team, Noll studied Psychology focusing on Human Development – a major that has proved helpful in her work with youth.

“Tennis is a tool that can help form a child’s perspective on the world – developing mental fortitude in a match or just pushing through hard drills,” Noll shared.

Her background in tennis has led her to an opportunity to help other families navigate the world of tennis, learning and growing along the way. Outside of Crosswhite Athletic Club, she hopes that her outreach program in the community, volunteering at public tennis courts, and giving free clinics will help inspire others to give back to the sport as well.

“I would highly recommend to any collegiate tennis player who is graduating to earn a coaching certification and enter the tennis industry – it’s a great career,” Noll added. The USPTA created the Under 30 initiative to create opportunities through leadership and education for fellow Under 30 teaching professional. Through this initiative, Under 30 teaching professionals can access funding to attend conferences, join USPTA committees and be an active resource for others worldwide.  Fellow USPTA pro and former USPTA Mid-Atlantic President, Patrick Kearns, added “the U30 tennis professionals are the future of the USPTA. Having Rebekah Noll win this National Award is great not only for our [Mid-Atlantic] division but for her personally.  Rebekah is a talented Professional and it’s wonderful to have her as one of our U30 leaders.”


Interview and article by Shell Wood, events manager for USTA Mid-Atlantic.

League Captain of the Year

Meet Amy O’Brien from Leesburg, Virginia. She captained 13 teams in 2016 and has already signed on for more this year, in addition to her commitment to growing tennis throughout her community.  She has won 2 tickets to the 217 US. Open along with $500 for travel spending for this honor! This is what others had to say about Amy:

“She is tireless and a great captain helping both rookies and advanced players.  She sacrifices so much of herself to the sport of tennis…it is the fabric of her soul and she truly is deserving.”

“She manages so many teams from doubles, mixed, singles to juniors. She is on the tennis board for our neighborhood, coordinates classes and schedules for contract time–the list just goes on and on!”

Here’s a deeper look at our Captain of the Year!

When did you first pick up a racquet? I decided to take lessons five years ago when our new pro arrived at River Creek Tennis Club. I thought it would be a good way to get some exercise but not realizing that I would really enjoy the game.

How long have you been captaining USTA League teams? I’ve captained teams for about 4 years.

What do you enjoy about captaining a USTA League team? Meeting players and making new friends not only from our club but other clubs as well.

What’s been your favorite or most unique “captain” moment so far? I have several favorite moments. One of favorite moment ( or a sense of accomplishment) of being a captain is seeing the growth in our membership and teams. In the past everyone in our community played for other clubs. We didn’t have a men’s, junior or mixed doubles team. But now we have over 16 teams for all  ages and level of players. It is nice to see our tennis community and membership grow at River Creek Club.

What do you think your players or other players should know about what it’s like to captain? I welcome feedback and being a captain is easy when you have a great network of support system from not only your teammates but parents as well.

What is your strategy on recruiting new players? How do you find and fill your team with new players each year? We recruit by a lot of networking. Sometimes, I see people playing that I don’t know at our club, I will ask them for their names and phone numbers and invite them to play in our round robin or  at our social events. We try to be very inclusive. Other times we discovered that new players are nervous to play with others and we tell them all levels are welcomed as we all started from somewhere. We want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Why do you like to give back to the sport of tennis so much? Because  I made some true and long lasting friendship due to tennis.  Also,regardless of your age tennis is a sport that everyone can enjoy . It is a sport that my kids really enjoy and I want to support them as much as possible.

If you could have any professional player (current or retired) on your league team, who would it be? Why? Federer because of his mental toughness and how he always stay calm.

Congratulations, Amy! USTA Mid-Atlantic would like to thank all of our outstanding USTA League captains for their service to the program.  From scheduling lineups to making calls to players at the eleventh hour, we know and definitely appreciate all they do to keep the USTA League program fun for everyone!

To learn more and get involved in USTA League tennis, click here.

 

USTA Mid Atlantic Award Crystal

The Three “I”s in Tennis

How do you spell tennis?

T-E-N-N-I-S. Absolutely correct!

How many of you might say there are three “i”s in tennis? Probably not many, but I am here to tell you there are.

As the Executive Director for USTA Mid-Atlantic I am moved by the passion people find in tennis. I visit the tennis courts in our Section and attend events, and as I look around I see people of every age, size, color and type playing their hearts out and having fun. Tennis truly embodies what it means to be life-long – something you can play as a child, teen, young adult and into your golden years. And oh by the way, you can get started at any age too!

Our goal, our mission is to get more people to experience what tennis is all about; play, have fun and feel the passion and benefits that result. Specifically it is to promote and develop the growth of tennis and we couldn’t be more proud to do that. In my role, I am always looking for ways we can get more people to find themselves in the game. I look strategically at what we are doing as a Section to achieve this and to keep us focused, we created a three-year plan that is aimed at serving the mission and actively tracking our goals.

Interestingly, as a result of creating the strategic plan, we saw the three “i”s: inclusion, innovation, and impact bubble up to the surface.

Inclusion – tennis is a game for any and every one. And our work strives to embrace that across all program areas of focus. We are working to create an inclusive and diverse tennis community through programs and services that attract all people to the game. Not only that, we hope to inspire the entire Mid-Atlantic tennis community to embrace and support an environment of inclusion.

Innovation – no longer can you just keep doing the same things and expect the same results. Innovation and disruption to the norms are essential for keeping tennis viable. Every day we push ourselves to try new things and get creative to reach our goals. This mentality has brought forth some of our most interesting (and fun) opportunities and programs to attract more people to tennis. Check out our Yo Pro program and youth progression for starters. We are striving for innovation when it comes to growing tennis and in how we provide the game itself.

Impact – above all we want to make a difference in a measurable way. We want to have positive outcomes on individuals, young and old, on communities and on tennis in the Mid-Atlantic. We are all about hard-hitting measurable results that show improved quality and increase in participation.

These three words are referenced and inferred throughout the strategic plan and when we took a step back, they stood out prominently.

While the three “i”s make a lot of sense to us here at the Section office, we know we aren’t alone embracing these principles.  We know that so many of you in our tennis community are living the three “i”s every day. In fact, in 2015 we wanted to honor the work of individuals and organizations going above and beyond to grow tennis and modeled our 2015 Section Awards in three new categories.

The Inclusion Award for advancing the commitment to tennis in every community recognizes those that went above and beyond to make our sport welcoming. The Innovation Award for embracing change as a strategy to grow tennis recognizes those that are proactive in trying new and different ideas and who attracted or retained players by introducing unique offerings. And the Impact Award for hard-hitting influence on the growth of tennis to those that grew tennis across the board and used tennis to make a positive difference in the community.

We had an impressive inaugural class of award winners – you can check out these videos to hear their inspiring stories.

In 2016, we continued with the three “i”s for the 2016 Section Awards. We received strong nominations and are excited to announce this year’s winners and tell their stories during the 2016 Conference & Awards on Saturday, November 12 at the Bethesda Marriott. I hope you can join us to learn about the 2016 award winners and get a sense of the three “i”s for yourself.

Tennis is the greatest sport around and when we put the three “i”s in tennis we’ll be well on our way to reaching our goals and having more and more people benefit from our great game.

Now that you know about the three “i”s, in what ways can you embrace them both on and off the court? I challenge you to think about that and share your stories with us through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (ustamas).  Or contact us through the blog and let us know what you think.


Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, is the executive director for USTA Mid-Atlantic.