Rising Up for Parks and Recreation

July marks the celebration of Parks and Recreation Month and recognizes how integral of a role public parks play in our own communities. For many individuals, public parks are places for special experiences and making memories to last a lifetime. They are often gathering places for all ages to get involved in nature, celebrate special events, and take on many new adventures and sports like tennis

Having access to parks and recreation is a vital part of an active, thriving community. Many people pick up their tennis racquets for the first time on public tennis courts and subsequently fall in love with the sport. Tennis courts in public parks are spaces that welcome any age, ability, background, and income level to the game of tennis. It is where fun tennis experiences happen, from casual hitting around with friends and family, tennis lessons, camps, USTA League matches, tournaments and more, public parks in the Mid-Atlantic Section are where it is at for tennis! In fact, the 2022 Tennis Participation Survey Summary Report created by the Tennis Industry Association reported that 41% of all tennis participants in the Mid-Atlantic play tennis on courts in public parks.

In addition, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is shining light on how parks and recreation professionals have become public health leaders. “They have expanded programming and worked to fill gaps in access to physical activity, healthy food, chronic disease prevention and management, and social connections, as well as support academic and cultural enrichment opportunities,” said the NRPA. 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic we believe that tennis should be accessible to all in every community and public parks play a vital role in making this vision come true. We have compiled a few tips on how you can celebrate parks and recreation month and #RiseUpJuly for tennis in your own community so future tennis players prosper for years to come! 

Tip #1 Organize a public park tennis court clean up day

Cleaning up your own community can be fun and easy! Tennis courts can get pretty dirty quickly especially due to the outdoor elements. A blower and a broom can get the job done efficiently making an old court look brand new again! Contact your public park and work with them to organize the tennis court clean up day. There may be certain steps you will have to take and talking with your local parks and recreation department should be the first one. Once you are ready to go, they say teamwork makes the dream work so gather your own team made up of friends, tennis teammates,  neighbors, and/or even your family can get the job done. Giving your local park tennis courts some TLC is one of the best ways to get out there and help restore your own community park tennis courts.

By spreading the word, this can become an even bigger community event bringing together people from all backgrounds creating new social connections in your own backyard. You can also spark interest for others to try tennis when they see a beautiful, spruced up court to play on! 

Tip #2 Spread the word about the USTA Mid-Atlantic Facility Restoration Grant 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic we believe tennis creates community, character, and well-being. Having high-quality, well-maintained places to play tennis can improve community well-being and provide access to the benefits of tennis among communities that are underserved. We hope to be a helping hand in fostering social connections and uplifting communities by creating a fun environment and place in every community where all are welcome to thrive with tennis. 

Through the Facility Restoration Grant, USTA Mid-Atlantic provides up to $10,000 for tennis court construction and refurbishment. Public tennis courts, especially those in parks, schools, and communities are typically the first place where people are seeking the sport. While the application period is closed for this year, we offer the Facility Restoration Grant every year so make sure you’re on the lookout for when the application reopens! Make sure to tell your local park and recreation department about the grant and encourage them to apply. These grants would not be possible without the support from individuals like you donating and showing support for USTA Mid-Atlantic –  a non-profit organization. 

Tip #3 Organize your own tennis meetup or tennis social

There are many people who want to get involved with tennis but don’t know where to start or who to contact. All it takes is a few tennis enthusiasts to help grow the sport in your own community! You can organize a tennis meetup among the community to encourage people interested in playing to meet other tennis players, find other interested players, and get to know any community tennis associations, providers, or organizers.  Now this may sound like a daunting task but there are many resources available for you to be successful! Contact your local Parks and Recreation Department and discuss your idea for a tennis meetup or tennis social with them. Once you are ready to move forward, see if you can post a local event listing on their website. You can also ask if you can hang up your own posters at the local park so more people can spread the word. 

Looking for more ways to grow the game of tennis? There are many ways you can get involved and leave a lasting impact. Make sure you continue to celebrate and #RiseUpJuly for your local Parks and Recreation Departments by showing your appreciation in any way you can! 

To stay up to date on all things tennis in the Mid-Atlantic make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and TwitterUSTA 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.

Tackling Tennis Access

In 2017, the Aspen Institute selected Baltimore as the first city to implement a model initiative to identify and facilitate opportunities for a variety of leaders and stakeholders to come together and grow the quality and quantity of youth sport opportunities. Project Play Baltimore was a three-year collective impact initiative, and at the onset a draft report was published indicating the lack in activities and activity level for youth in the city. Only 26% of males and 16% of females met the CDC’s recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. 

In the years following the initiative, significant progress has been made. Earlier this year, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced a $120 million vision for the city’s recreation and parks acknowledging the critical and vital role recreation plays in the well-being of residents, especially youth. 

Likewise, USTA Mid-Atlantic – a nonprofit organization – recognizes the significance and importance of ensuring access to tennis and the life-long benefits the sport provides. We envision a community where tennis is accessible and available for all people to play, especially youth who can benefit exponentially from the sport. We rely on the generosity and support of our community that helps us take on and tackle challenges – from increasing physical activity to addressing equity and access to tennis and more. 

Seeing the opportunity to make a significant impact and acknowledging Baltimore’s rich and deeply rooted tennis history, USTA Mid-Atlantic is taking a leadership role to bring tennis to more youth in the city of Baltimore (and in the County) and support the overarching vision for a healthier community and equity for recreation and youth sports. 

Thanks to support from the Ravens Foundation, Inc., through a Ravens PLAY 60 Grant, USTA Mid-Atlantic began implementing free and low-cost introductory tennis programs using the USTA Team Challenge format in Baltimore, primarily in Druid Hill Park and Patterson Park this spring, along with sessions not too far outside the city in Baltimore County. Additional funding from the Kahlert Foundation to the Section supported USTA Mid-Atlantic’s implementation of a new pilot tennis program called Girls Rule the Court™ offered in the city of Baltimore. 

Both tennis programs in Baltimore that USTA Mid-Atlantic offers are introductory, giving youth the chance to learn the fundamentals of tennis in a fun, low-pressure environment. All equipment is provided and use of public park tennis courts help make it easy and convenient to participate. 

Not only that, Baltimore youth gain increased physical activity levels and both programs are rooted in a positive youth development experience that facilitates social emotional learning (SEL) and supports an overall healthy well-being for young people.  

Developing SEL skills such as building confidence, character development, and creating meaningful peer connections is a key component in both programs. USTA Mid-Atlantic partnered with Hello Insight to measure SEL among participants of the programs. On average, participants reported a 84% satisfaction rate through the Hello Insight participation surveys. In addition through post surveys, “87% of participants also reported that they were able to positively share and listen to each other during the program, positively impacting their interpersonal relationships and communication skills.” Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development for USTA Mid-Atlantic reflected on the feedback received thus far from program participants, “This information enables us to grow the program in impactful ways and improve the overall experience for all participants in real time, thereby ensuring each young person is finding their unique path to thrive,” she said. 

The spring sessions concluded with 37 participants among both tennis program offerings in Baltimore, and summer programs are starting now. If you would like your child or someone else you know to participate in these rewarding tennis programs for youth check here for location, dates and details for the programs. Registration is open and all are encouraged to sign up. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic aims to continue to grow these programs and tennis offerings in Baltimore to increase access to tennis and support the vision that all children have access to sports. 

One way you can get involved and show support is by volunteering with us to help with both of these programs. Volunteers are the heart of USTA Mid-Atlantic and there are plenty of opportunities beyond these as well, such as volunteering at local tennis events, community events, joining committees, and other USTA Mid-Atlantic projects. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, check out our volunteer page, and visit our volunteer hub to learn more about how you can get started and sign up to volunteer. 

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.

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.