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.

orange tennis racket beside green tennis ball

Start the New Year in Fresh New Gear

Refresh Your Tennis Gear for the New Year!

The new year is almost here and soon 2020 will be in the rearview mirror. Now is the best time to refresh and upgrade your tennis gear for the new season. From racquets, string, and shoes – keeping your equipment fresh and updated can help you get the most out of your game.

One of the ways we thought we could help you is to uncover and round up the top trends in tennis gear that are on the horizon. So, USTA Mid-Atlantic checked in with two of our partners, Smith Chaiyakan at  Mains and Crosses, a full-service professional racquet stringing service in Alexandria, Va., and Darrell Haines of Tennis Topia, a tennis shop in Rockville, Md. Not only do Smith and Darrell have their pulse on the hottest equipment in the Mid-Atlantic, all of the products mentioned below can be purchased at their respective shops.  

Refresh Your Tennis Gear with Tennis Topia

Racquets

Wilson Clash. For those of you who don’t follow Wilson Sporting Goods, the Clash is the latest offering from Wilson. According to Darrell, the Clash offers players an “arm friendly, flexible-framed racquet without sacrificing power or sweet spot.” In other words, this racquet is perfect for players who want to get more power from their racquets without risking arm injuries such as tennis elbow. The Wilson Clash comes in a range of options from the Clash 98 to the Clash 108 and even offers options for junior players. The Clash retails between $199 – $249.

If you are new to tennis and looking for a racquet, Darrell says that the Head Titanium Ti S6 is excellent for beginners. The Ti S6 is lightweight and has an oversized racquet head. This means that the racquet is easier to control and will be more forgiving of a mishit ball. The Ti S6 retails for $80. 

String

Restringing your racquet should be a regular part of maintaining the quality of your game because strings lose tension over time and this decreases performance. Smith and Darrell offer the following suggestions for string:

Refresh Your Tennis Gear with Mains and Crosses

Babolat Blast RPM – the best selling string in the world and the string of choice for pro Rafael Nadal. This string offers players spin, durability and playability.

Solinco Hyper G and SolincoHyper G Soft – is a co-polyester string designed to offer more playability and control while allowing players to generate extreme power, spin and bite.

Tecnifibre Triax – According to Smith, the Triax has “performance and durability and is still soft enough for those recovering from tennis related injuries.”

String prices vary but typically start around $12.

Overgrip

There are so many options for overgrips on the market. However, Smith noted that  Tourna Grip is enjoying a popularity spike. It is an overgrip that professional tennis players such as the Bryan Brothers and John Isner choose. Tourna Grip offers a dry, comfortable grip and is able to accommodate all types of players. Tourna Grip retails starting at $5. 

Shoes

According to Darrell, the trend in tennis footwear is a shoe that offers “out-of-the-box comfort.” Additionally, more players are looking for shoes that are as light as a running sneaker with the durability of a traditional tennis shoe. Many brands offer footwear that meet this need and Nike is still one of the best selling brands. However, the K-Swiss Hypercourt Express 2 is the best selling shoe at Tennis Topia. The Hypercourt Express 2 is engineered to be supportive, stable, comfortable and durable. These shoes retail for $105.

Masks

As indoor tennis season is upon us,  players may need to wear a mask while visiting indoor tennis facilities and possibly during tennis play. Darrell  suggests Zensah Sport Performance masks. These masks are designed to be comfortable, breathable and no-slip – perfect for playing sports. Zensah masks retail for $16.

USTA Mid-Atlantic thanks Smith and Darrell for all of their excellent advice. Follow them on social media to continue to get updates on the latest in tennis gear. You can find Smith and Mains and Crosses on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.  Darrell and Tennis Topia can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Don’t forget, USTA Mid-Atlantic’s 12 Days of Gifting! You can join in the fun by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Serving Off Court: Gearing Up With TennisTopia

Excitement is building in the Mid-Atlantic as tennis players are getting out more and more to play. Over the last few weeks, USTA Mid-Atlantic teamed up with local business owners on our  #ServeItForward business list for info that can help you get back on the court. So far, we shared fitness tips from LaRue Cook, owner of LEC Fitness, and a healthy recipe to fuel your body from Corey Kuck, owner of Catering By Corey

Now, we turn our attention to tennis gear and caught up with Darrell Haines, the owner and founder of local Mid-Atlantic tennis shop TennisTopia

A Michigan native, Darrell was introduced to tennis by his dad who managed a tennis club and supported Darrell in his love for tennis. Growing up, Darrell played junior competitive tennis tournaments and eventually went on to play for Ferris State University in Michigan. While at Ferris State, Darrell majored in Professional Tennis Management and Marketing. After college, he eventually landed in Montgomery County, Maryland and opened TennisTopia in Rockville, Md., in 2006.

What Darrell loves most about TennisTopia is connecting with people. From competitive players to those just starting out, Darrell enjoys learning about his customers and then helping them select the right tennis gear that is suited to their needs and play – a highly personalized approach. He also loves the diversity of tennis and how tennis can bring people together. 

In our conversation with Darrell, we chatted about tennis gear and the services that TennisTopia offers. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What are a few unique products or services that your shop offers? 

Darrell Haines: We offer while-you-wait racquet restringing services. We have two professional stringers that have both strung on the pro tour. In fact, one of the stringers is one of the few stringers in the world to string three of the four grand slams in the same year.

Stringing really can make a difference for someone depending on their level of play. When you have a bad string job, you can really tell the difference. It is our stringing services that set us apart from other shops.

We also offer one-to-one customer service and our staff is very knowledgeable about our products. The goal of every staff member is to help players choose gear that is best for them, no matter what their level of play is. 

As we return to play, what are your top 5 items everyone should have in their tennis bag?

First and foremost, everyone should definitely have their mask and hand sanitizer, but apart from that, I recommend having an extra racquet so you have a backup. You never know when you might break a string or have something happen to the grip. 

Next, I recommend having an extra pair of shoes for after you play. Fourth, I recommend having wristbands. Wristbands are great to help absorb extra sweat and to keep the sweat from getting on the racquet. Finally, keep extra tennis balls in your bag. 

What are a few tips for taking care of your gear – especially after a prolonged absence from tennis?

After not playing for a few months, I highly recommend that everyone restring and regrip their racquets. Regular restringing helps keep your game consistent. I would recommend restringing your racquet twice a year. Also, it is important to replace grips because good grips help you from gripping the racquet too hard which can lead to tennis elbow. Lower level players often undervalue the power of a newer string job and what a new grip can do for your play and technique. Those two things really do make a big difference on your play.

Any final thoughts about getting back on court?

People are getting back to playing tennis and it’s so nice to see. It really is a lifetime sport.

As a valued partner of the #ServeItForward campaign, TennisTopia is offering 10% off all purchases with promo code: MAS10 and all online orders of $50 or more are eligible for 2-day free shipping. Visit the store in-person in at 827-A Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD or check out their online store!

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to continue to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section.  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. 

Corey Kuck - Eating healthy to return to tennis

Serving off the court: Fueling Your Body for Tennis

You’re playing tennis regularly and working on your game but still feel like you need extra energy to make it through a match. Sound like you? If so, you may need to take a look at your nutrition.

Healthy, balanced eating consistently could give you the boost of energy and enhance your athletic performance on the tennis courts.

So many people are excited to get out and play tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region, and so we want to help you not only get back to playing but have a few nutrition tips and a healthy recipe that can help you get your nutrition on point, and ready to fuel your tennis game from the inside out.

We caught up with another local business owner featured on the #ServeItForward business list Corey Kuck, Chef, and owner of Catering By Corey for his thoughts on tennis, cooking and a simple, healthy recipe for you to try out. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Where are you from originally?

Corey Kuck:  Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Where do you live now? 

Leesburg, VA

How long have you been playing tennis? 

A little more than 1 year.

How did you get started playing tennis?

 I never really played before but did I try out for my High School team against the number 1 player. I didn’t win. I didn’t pick up a racquet again until I met my girlfriend and last year, she got me involved in playing tennis.

How often do you play and where? 

I try to play socially at River Creek Club in Leesburg once or twice a week. If I am not able to hit with someone, then I use the ball machine to improve my skills. I try to take lessons once a week as well. 

How does it feel to be back out on the courts?

 It feels great to be on the courts. My game is progressing and tennis is one sport that you can safely play during the pandemic. It helps me relieve stress.

Let’s switch gears and talk about food  . . .

How long have you been a Chef? 

I have been in the industry as a cook and chef for 22 years 

Where did you train?

 I am a self-taught chef. I started early on by watching my mother at home; my mother is a great cook. I then progressed to learning through hands-on experience from people with all skill levels in the industry. I jumped from restaurant to restaurant every two years to make sure that I learned to cook dishes from all over the world and continuously honed my skills.

What drew you to cooking? 

Cooking is artistic, delicious and I get to play with knives and fire.

What’s your favorite dish? 

That is an impossible question to answer as it always changes because of my love for food. I always like a good Taco.

What do you want people to know about your business?

I not only cater, but I make homemade meals for busy families or those that want healthy home meals.

What are a few nutrition tips tennis players should keep in mind while returning to the courts? Always hydrate. Watch your sugar intake and make sure you get enough potassium and carbs before a match.

To help fuel your body to get back out on the court, try Corey’s Summer Herb Pesto crusted Pork Tenderloin with Mediterranean Couscous:

Ingredients:  

1 or 2 pork tenderloin

2- 3 teaspoons minced (Dried) onion

1 teaspoon granulated garlic per pork tenderloin

¾ of a teaspoon ground ginger

salt and pepper to taste

1 capful apple cider vinegar per pork tenderloin

3 heaping tablespoons summer herb pesto (store brand is fine) 

1 ½ cup of plain couscous 

1 ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 12oz can of quartered or chopped artichoke hearts

1 med to large fresh tomato

½ to ¾ cup fresh basil

½ cup fresh Italian parsley 

4 or 5 cloves of fresh garlic 

½ of medium red onion

½ cup feta cheese

⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar

⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

½ of lemon

½ of lime

Herb pesto crusted Pork Tenderloin: 

  1. Clean Pork Tenderloin of all silverskin, pat dry then drizzle about one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar on pork and rub in.  Season with dried Onion, granulated garlic, ground ginger, salt, and fresh ground black pepper and rub in.  
  2. Sear pork in a medium-high cast iron pan with oil of choice.  When all sides of pork are seared and have a rich golden brown color, take off the heat and let cool for 5 min. 
  3. Rub the summer herb pesto all over the tenderloin.  
  4. Place on a lined cookie sheet and finish in a 350-degree oven for 13 to 17 min depending on the size of tenderloin and preference of the doneness of pork (Medium to well done).  

For the Mediterranean  Couscous (you can make a day in advance) 

  1. Prepare a plain couscous with a vegetable or chicken broth according to the directions.  Fork fluff the couscous and put in the fridge.  
  2. Mince fresh garlic (4 or 5 cloves) and lightly roast in a small pan with oil at medium-low temperature until toasted, take off the heat, and set aside. 
  3. Cut fresh basil and Italian parsley, dice artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and red onion.  
  4. In a large bowl toss in the couscous,  drizzle white balsamic vinegar over couscous, and extra virgin olive oil about 1/4 cup of each.  
  5. Add all of the vegetables and herbs and squeeze one half of a lime and lemon into the couscous and toss all together and refrigerate until you serve.

Now that you have a few quick nutrition tips, don’t forget to check out LaRue Cook’s tips on preparing your body for tennis

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. 

Let us know how you or your tennis friends #ServeItForward by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com.

Sources: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Harvard Medical School

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise-eating-healthy#breakfast

Evelyn Header_1170x585

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.