How You Can Serve it Forward to Youth Players this Summer!

Kids want to play tennis and all we have to do is put them on a path to get into the game. But sometimes, things get in the way. The cost of lessons or tennis summer camp fees, or even equipment can be more than some can afford. This is why we fundraise! 

We fundraise so that more youth players in need can have the chance to play. We fundraise to support scholarships that can help cover tennis expenses for any level youth tennis player. We fundraise so no one has to fall behind or have less time on the tennis court than someone else. 

All children deserve to play tennis and scholarships from USTA Mid-Atlantic make it so more youth can get into and stay in the sport. 

Join USTA Mid-Atlantic and fundraise in the Summer Smash challenge. This year all money raised in the challenge will fund scholarships for youth tennis players. 

And we need you now more than ever. 

The Junior Player Scholarship application period has been open only for a couple of weeks and we have received an overwhelming number of applications, more than we have ever seen before. We will exhaust all the funding we have for the scholarship just in this first round of applications. But so many more kids need help and need to be able to play tennis! 

Tennis continues to be an outlet for kids to get involved, make friends, and be active.  This year’s Summer Smash fundraising will directly fund youth tennis players with scholarships so they gain the healthy benefits of the sport we all love! 

Let’s Smash the Challenge Together 

This challenge provides a fun, easy way for your team to compete against other Mid-Atlantic teams to see how much money you can raise for the USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Scholarship program. It’s truly a special experience. 

“It’s fun sharing something important to me and telling others about its benefits,” said Robin Sanford, the top fundraiser in the 2021 Summer Smash Challenge. “I also love a challenge!”

Over the last 10 years, USTA Mid-Atlantic has awarded 91 youth players with scholarships to help cover expenses related to tennis and keep them playing. The goal is to raise $5,000 to fund more youth player scholarships and respond to the growing need among players and their families/caregivers. 

Here are the easy steps to get your fundraiser on a roll: 

  1. SIGN UP
    Click here
    to register as an individual with the option to join a team later!
  2. SHARE YOUR PAGE
    Personalize your page with your tennis story, photos and videos then share the news with your network.
  3. GET MORE SUPPORTERS
    Ask your friends and tennis teammates to join your team; you can send them a custom link to sign up on your dashboard. Also, share your fundraising page with friends and family asking them to support you so that more kids can experience the benefits of tennis!

“I set up my page and then emailed it to about 15 people individually, who I thought might be willing to help,” Sanford said. “These were family and friends who I thought would be willing to support my effort and help a good cause;they responded very generously.”

Here are four tips to help guide you towards a successful fundraiser: 

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

The Perks of the Summer Smash 

Now, we do know tennis players love a little friendly competition! In recognition of that, you and your team could WIN big by going big with your efforts. 

Summer Smash 2022 top fundraiser prizes:

  • 1st Place: Citi Open Team Experience! Includes (15) tickets for your team to attend the 2022 Citi Open together this summer in Washington, DC among other surprises!
  • 2nd Place: Set of custom tennis shirts for you and your team and customized team cooler from the Spoiled Office AND a 2-hour tennis clinic for 12 at The Boar’s Head Resort!
  • 3rd Place: (15) $50 Gift Cards to TennisTopia, one for each member of your team AND a 2-hour tennis clinic for 12 at Wintergreen Resort!

The challenge ends July 11th, so let’s get started!

Participating in Summer Smash is a great way to begin leaving your impact on the Mid-Atlantic tennis community, but your journey doesn’t have to stop there! If you’re looking to do more to grow tennis in your community, there are various ways to get involved year-round and make an impact.

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

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.

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 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.

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