Creating More Opportunities for Play

The Building of New Tennis Courts with Safe Place to Play Grant

A story published in USA Today reported that tennis participation skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article references a study by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) that found that 21.64 million people played tennis in 2020. This is roughly a 22 percent increase in creating more tennis play from the previous year.  

Tennis is one of the few sports that allows you to play while maintaining a safe, social distance. Additionally, tennis helps you stay fit both physically and mentally; one of the greatest benefits of the sport is the way it brings people together. Tennis helps build communities by bringing people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities together. And is a sport that you can enjoy your entire life.

Now, imagine not having access to tennis because your community either lacks a tennis court or the courts are not safe to play on. Not having playable tennis courts available, communities miss out on all the benefits tennis has to offer. Overall, no one should be precluded from the sport because of the lack of resources. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s solution is our Safe Place to Play Grant. Our grant provides funds for tennis court construction and refurbishment in the Mid-Atlantic – often to communities in areas that need economic investment.

Creating safe places to play with the Mid-Atlantic Safe Place to Play grant

The Safe Place to Play Grant is creating more tennis play and supports communities in tangible ways. In the last three years, USTA Mid-Atlantic has granted nearly $70,000. These projects also include community outreach in the form of accessible and affordable tennis programming so that more people can learn and play the sport.

One such project to benefit from grant funds is in West Virginia. The Safe Place to Play Grant helped one community gain the first four tennis courts, ever, for the county. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic checked in with Ryan Fincham of Morgan County Tennis Association, a 2020 grantee in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. to see how their grant funds are impacting their community.

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What’s the status of construction?

Construction began in June 2020 and the courts are 99 percent completed. The courts will open to the public on March 1, 2021.

What types of tennis programming are you planning?

MCTA Board approving new courts with the Safe Place to Play grant

For almost a decade, the Morgan County Tennis Association has offered year-round youth tennis clinics for ages 4 to 14 either on two local courts in poor shape or in high school and church gyms. With the new courts, we are planning on continuing and expanding those programs.  Secondly, the courts will be used by the middle school and the intermediate school PE classes and the Berkeley Springs High School Boys and Girls Tennis Teams (that have been in existence for more than 15 years and have never held a home tennis match).  Finally, we plan to promote USTA Adult League play, as well as start Junior Team Tennis and host USTA sanctioned tournaments.

What do these courts mean to the community?

The courts have been a dream to many in the community for nearly 20 years. The community rallied around the project, and we feel the entire community is proud of the achievement. We think that many people will try tennis for the first time on these new courts.  

Creating safe places to play in Berkley Springs W Va.

For 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, USTA Mid-Atlantic was able to continue its work supporting communities. We awarded three organizations Safe Place to Play grant funding. 

Charles City County Parks and Recreation, Charles City County, Va

The goal of rural Charles City County is to grow tennis by improving the tennis infrastructure. They recognize that tennis is an individual sport that is ideal for our current times. Their award will fund refurbishing and restoring the Parks and Recreation tennis courts. Kimberly Barrow of the Charles City County Parks and Recreation states that through this project “we would be able to affect both the physical and mental well being of the community on a large scale.” The project is scheduled to start in spring 2021.

Lindale Middle School, Anne Arundel County, Md.

Lindale Middle recognized that tennis should be accessible to all – including those who have a disability. They received state grant funding to resurface their courts but will use the Safe Place to Play grant to create more accessible tennis courts. “Our school is a community school where many organizations utilize our facilities. We want to make it another option to gather and learn the game of tennis,” says Elena Thomas of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Their plan is to complete the entire project by fall 2021.

Rappahannock Community College Education Foundation, Warsaw, Va.

According to Kerry Wiersma of the Rappahannock Community College Education Foundation, their community’s vision is to create “a multi-generational gathering place that provides opportunities for healthy living and community engagement.” With that goal in mind, they built a joint initiative with the town of Warsaw, Richmond County, Richmond County Public Schools, and individual community donors to renovate and rebuild the tennis courts at the Rappahannock Community College. These tennis courts are the only tennis courts for the counties of Richmond, Westmoreland, Essex, and Northumberland and will be available for use by the community college, public school system, and the general population. Construction started in September 2020.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, USTA Mid-Atlantic’s mission is to promote the growth of tennis. Quality tennis infrastructure in more communities is a key aspect of succeeding in the mission and vision of the organization. With more courts and by creating more tennis play, that means more lives and communities improve.

Your tax-deductible donations support this grant program. And supports changing lives by adding valuable tennis court infrastructure throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Make a donation today so that we can continue to offer Safe Place to Play grants.

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.

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Serving Off the Court: Evelyn Schroedl

At 102 years old, USTA Mid-Atlantic donor Evelyn Schroedl proves that not only is tennis a lifelong sport that can be played at nearly every age, but how supporting tennis can have a lifelong positive impact that can live on for all generations. 

A Baltimore, Md., native, Evelyn was introduced to tennis when her brother-in-law gave her a tennis racquet. Hitting the ball back and forth across the street with him sparked an interest in the sport. It wasn’t until 1997, when she retired from the workforce, that she started taking tennis lessons. Evelyn says “I always wished I started much earlier.”

Over the years Evelyn would go on to play on several teams including a successful mixed doubles team. Currently, Evelyn plays doubles at the Northeast Regional Recreation Center (NRRC) near her home in Parkville, Md. 

What Evelyn loves most about tennis is the social aspect and meeting so many different people. For example, once, while at a museum food court in Washington, D.C., she sat at a table with two ladies who excitedly exclaimed, “We know who you are, we play tennis with you!” While Evelyn didn’t immediately recognize them, she reflects on how tennis connects you with so many people that you often find you know someone everywhere you go, even in large metropolitan areas like Baltimore and D.C. Tennis creates a more connected community.

Knowing first hand the positive benefits of tennis and the vital community the sport provides for players of every age, Evelyn is a champion for increasing access to the sport. However, over the years Baltimore lost many of its beloved tennis courts – the very places where people can learn the sport and connect with one another. Now, there are only a handful of places left to play. The impact of the loss of courts is felt the most in underserved communities across the city because it is one less opportunity for adults and youth to have a safe place to play, de-stress and come together. 

Upset by the dwindling amount of courts in the Baltimore area Evelyn went into action. 

First, she donated a new tennis facility to her alma mater and former employer, Goucher College. In 2019, Goucher broke ground on The Evelyn Dyke Schroedl ’62 Tennis Center. Twelve new, outdoor tennis courts will replace the eight that had been there and the courts will be the home to the Goucher College Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams and will be open to the surrounding community for public use.

Second, Evelyn donated to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. She knew that by giving to the USTA Mid-Atlantic, she was helping communities in the region like Baltimore, enhance lives through tennis, and that her donation supports increased access to the sport for all. 

When asked why she donated, Evelyn simply replies “because I could.”

While the COVID- 19 Pandemic has us sidelined, Evelyn is no stranger to situations like these. She survived the Spanish Flu in 1918 and looks at the current COVID pandemic as a nice break from everyday life. 

“I am not unhappy about the quarantine; I am very happy because I am doing things I have not done in a long time!” Evelyn spends her time reading, sewing, and watching many old movies. However, Evelyn, like the rest of us in the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community, is eagerly awaiting getting back on the courts.

Evelyn is the essence of “serving off the court,” selfless acts that will impact a community and sport that she adores.

Click here to find out how you too can support USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization to make an impact on our region through the power of tennis.

Serving off the Court: Trinh Banks

For tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic region, making a difference starts on the tennis courts where players find themselves building character and a strong sense of community through the sport. But often among our tennis community, there are many players making a difference that reaches far beyond. 

During this unusual time and new normal of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is seeing how our tennis community is going above and beyond for others. We are excited to hear about the many ways our tennis family is stepping off the court and impacting our larger communities in the region during this time and want to share these uplifting stories. 

One such player giving back is Trinh Banks.

Trinh is an Annandale, Va., mother of four and USTA Mid-Atlantic member. As a 4.0/4.5 player, Trinh enjoys playing in USTA Leagues because of the community it provides her. League play is her opportunity to not only compete but to hang out with friends. That friendship and camaraderie helped elevate her and her teammates’ games, taking them all the way to USTA 4.5 League Nationals two times. 

Trinh Banks_Mask production
Mask Production

However, with league play on hold and social distancing in place, Trinh decided to focus her energy on giving back to the Mid-Atlantic community – and even beyond –  by sewing cloth masks and donating them.

Trinh started making masks by taking personal requests. With materials that she had on hand, she began sewing the masks and sending them to her friends and family who work in the healthcare industry. Then, using Facebook, she started donating them wherever there was a need, including sending her masks to Mississippi, Chicago, and New York City – a coronavirus hot spot.

When Mary Washington Hospital launched the 5,000-mask challenge, Trinh did not hesitate to participate. Her tennis friends jumped in as well by donating some of the materials for the masks. Trinh, with the support of her tennis friends, has contributed to the 1,600 masks that Mary Washington has received so far.

Trinh has made more than 100 masks. Now, she has added sewing surgeons caps as well. She recently shipped 30 caps to a nurse from Orlando, Fl., who is currently serving on the frontlines in New Orleans, La.

Trinh Banks_Masks to hospital workers

“I saw a need about the PPE. I have a skill and I wanted to help in any way that I can,” said Banks.

For Trinh, sewing is a family affair and she learned the skill from her parents. Her mom was a seamstress and her dad was a tailor. Trinh continues the family tradition by using this time to teach her four children, whose ages range between 8 and 12, how to sew. They’ve had an active role in helping her make the masks and are contributing in the act of kindness. In addition to having extra little hands to help, Trinh says she also uses this time to teach her kids skills that include math, planning, and preparation through sewing.

When asked for her advice on getting involved and giving back during the pandemic, particularly if you lack sewing skills, she says,  “There are different ways to contribute. One way is to donate materials such as pipe cleaners, cloth, and elastics. Another way is to pre-cut the materials and send them to someone sewing masks. Any little bit helps.”

USTA Mid-Atlantic is proud of the impact that our members are having on our community. Let us know how you or your tennis friends are going above and beyond for others and making a difference during the coronavirus pandemic by dropping us a message on social media.

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