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. 

Mid-Atlantic Impact

Serving Off Court: USTA Mid-Atlantic Donates 80 Tablets to Underserved Communities

USTA Mid-Atlantic aims to create healthier, happier, and more active communities through tennis – even in difficult times. The coronavirus pandemic is posing challenges on many levels, especially for youth in the region. As schools and after school providers have shut down and transitioned to distance learning, one problem is the need for technology resources, especially in underserved communities, where these types of tools may not be present in the home.

Children now need access to sufficient technology to keep up with their education and enrichment activities, such as tennis.  In Washington, D.C., alone, it’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of students “lack adequate access to the internet and proper devices.”(thehill.com)  And according to an article in the Washington Post, “before the coronavirus crisis, only about 1 in 4 students in the high-poverty Baltimore City Public Schools had computers.”

“A number of students do not have access to computers or tablets outside of what is provided in school,” says Jeri Ingram, founder of Metropolitan Tennis Education Group

In an effort to be a part of the solution, USTA Mid-Atlantic was able to repurpose an inventory of tablet devices to distribute to The ACE Project, the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), and the Metropolitan Tennis Education Group (MTEG), three National Junior Tennis & Learning providers in the Mid-Atlantic whose programs are present in communities where the need is prevalent.  

National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) providers help children in need through tennis and education. NJTLs are safe places for children to get support in academics and gain valuable exposure to tennis development. And while children can’t physically be present at their local NJTL right now, these entities are working hard to continue to help their students grow and learn by connecting with them virtually. 

However, it is clear that the lack of technology resources could pose a barrier for children in their programs. 

“The tablets are crucial,” says Matthew Chicola, director of philanthropy for The ACE Project in Baltimore, Md. “They will enable students who do not have access to technology devices to continue to participate in the program.” 

The ACE Project Baltimore chapter was started five years ago in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray verdict as one method to bring healing to the community. With the closing of schools due to the pandemic, the Baltimore chapter shifted programming to a digital platform. Currently, they serve between 150 to 200 children.

The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) is dedicated to building life champions through the sport of tennis. WTEF offers tennis and educational programming to underserved communities in Washington, D.C. The tablet donation will benefit WTEF’s Arthur Ashe Children’s Program which serves 179 students in 14 elementary schools. Ronnie Goodall, director of the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program, says the tablets will be like a “lifeline to each other, teachers, and classmates” for students and will help bring the program virtually to kids who are without digital access. “The kids get a kick out of seeing friends. It’s a healing connection.”

For Metropolitan Tennis Education Group, the tablets will allow them to “initiate digital learning in a number of capacities” according to Jeri Ingram. MTEG students, ages six through seventeen, will be able to participate in virtual programmings such as home training sessions, weekly zoom education series, and college preparation courses. Ms. Ingram further says that this donation also allows the staff “to enhance their offerings” by providing opportunities like one on one virtual tennis lessons.

“Now, more than ever, our youth need to feel connected to the tennis community that they have come to know so well and truly depend on,” says Lindsey Keeler, senior director of USTA programs and services at USTA Mid-Atlantic.  “We’re happy to partner with these organizations to help ensure that children in these programs can maintain their participation. We really are so moved by all of the ways our tennis community is stepping up to help others and this is just one way we are doing our part too.” “Hopefully this will encourage others to see how they can find ways they can help as well.  Everyone needs to be a part of the solution so that no one is left behind,” says Beth Twomey, chief operating officer at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Click here to find out how to help us continue supporting programs to underserved communities that will be most affected by this crisis.

Kathy R: It’s a Game Changer

This month, we talked with USTA Mid-Atlantic donor and volunteer Kathy Renzetti, CAE. Kathy is a member of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors and shared why she gives her time to tennis, the importance of sport in shaping lives, and why she donates. 

Why are you involved with USTA Mid-Atlantic Section (USTA MAS)?

Kathy R.: I decided to get involved with USTA MAS because I was impressed with its mission of bringing tennis to everyone. The staff and volunteers really do take this to heart as they have seen first-hand how tennis can change lives. I am a firm believer in the use of sport to bring diverse communities together and USTA MAS is committed to reaching all communities, especially children, and introducing them to the game regardless of their background, zip code or ability to pay. USTA MAS looks for ways to break down barriers so that everyone has the opportunity to discover tennis.

Learn more about the impact of our work to bring tennis to everyone! 

What is something you wish people knew about USTA Mid-Atlantic? 

Kathy R.: I wish people knew more about the incredible work USTA MAS does in the community for kids. USTA MAS is reaching more kids than ever through its after school program. It has brought tennis to schools where 100% of students qualify for free and reduced meals; they also provide financial support and scholarships for kids. 

USTA MAS is truly committed to changing the face of tennis in the Section. I don’t think people are aware of that. I also don’t think they are aware that USTA MAS relies on donor support to make all of this happen. I know more and more people are getting involved and I love to see this happen because community support, especially philanthropic support, makes a huge impact and sparks transformative change.

Why do you choose to support USTA Mid-Atlantic?

Kathy R.:  I choose to donate to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section because the organization is committed to bringing the game of tennis to youth in underserved communities. Just one example is the after school tennis program, which is supported by donors. The program experienced unprecedented growth and has had more than 15,000 youth participation since 2016.

I had the opportunity to attend a session. The staff was amazing and the kids were learning about the game, making friends, and having fun! It’s a game-changer.

Watch this video to learn more about the impact of the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program on youth and why your support is needed! 

What is it like being a volunteer for USTA Mid-Atlantic?

Kathy R.: I’m proud to be a board member of USTA MAS. We are trying hard to lead the way in the region – experiencing transformative change ourselves as a board. We want to change the face of the sport, especially among youth, and to break down barriers to access whether that be financial or by providing courts or safe places to play.

What would you tell someone that is thinking about donating to USTA Mid-Atlantic?

Kathy R.: I encourage people to learn more about USTA MAS – to talk to the coaches, volunteers, teachers, and players. It’s important to see for yourself how USTA MAS is making an impact in the region. Also, success is in the numbers. USTA MAS is very transparent about the use of donated dollars. Donors can feel confident that the money they invest in USTA MAS is truly making an impact.

It is through the love of tennis we can change lives together. You can help us continue to make tennis accessible to all in the Mid-Atlantic Section, and help us deliver more after school and summer camp tennis programs to ALL children in our region. You can make a tax-deductible donation today!


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.

How Your Donation Supports Tennis

As a non-profit charitable organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. We aim to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region and want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the lifelong benefits of tennis.

One of the ways we do this is by introducing youth to tennis through after school and summer camp programs.

When you make a tax-deductible donation, you help with program expenses such as these:

Donate today, and make an impact beyond the net.

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.

Amir F: USTA Mid-Atlantic is for Everyone

Amir Head ShotThis month we caught up with USTA Mid-Atlantic volunteer, Amir Frydman.  Amir shared what he loves about tennis, why he thinks it is important to support the growth of tennis and why he donates to USTA Mid-Atlantic.

Why do you choose to support USTA Mid-Atlantic Section? 

Amir F.: I support USTA Mid-Atlantic because it is an amazing organization. There is nothing like seeing the joy people of all ages get from playing tennis. When they say tennis is a sport for life, it is absolutely true. USTA Mid-Atlantic has done a great job getting kids involved from the time they can hold a youth racquet to adults of every age playing tennis. There is no age limit especially when you fall in love with the sport. 

For me, the catalyst for a love of tennis has been the USTA and in particular the Mid-Atlantic Section. The Section is highly organized and makes it easy for every player of every ability and socioeconomic status to enjoy tennis, whether it is to socialize or to compete.

Make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year to support USTA Mid-Atlantic and our  effort to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region so that EVERYONE can play. 

Why do you feel we make a difference? How so? 

Amir F.: USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis is tennis for everyone. The Section has made tennis an activity without boundaries, especially through its after school and summer camp program. Whether there is a tennis court available or just a parking lot or a school gym, USTA Mid-Atlantic makes it accessible for everyone to play the game. They provide the equipment: racquets, nets, and the balls – all of it. They make it so fun and easy to get involved. There are few sports or activities that are not restricted by age, language, gender, race – tennis brings people from all walks of life together. That is why it is growing; and with the support of USTA Mid-Atlantic there are no limits.

Make a tax-deductible donation today and support the power of tennis to bring people together and change lives in our region.

What do you think about our after school and summer camp program? What do you think is different about this youth program? 

Amir F.: I absolutely love the program. I had the chance to visit the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis summer camp program this past summer. I was expecting a small group of children playing. Instead I saw a large group of children actively participating and learning with the program coaches. I could not believe how well organized the program was. It is never easy to get 30 kids of all levels excited and participating. Without exception everyone was having fun and everyone was engaged. The coaches did an amazing job teaching without making it look like they were teaching. 

One wonderful aspect was that while I noticed some different levels of talent or experience, the instructors made every kid feel great about themselves. The enthusiasm from the coaches and program director was contagious. I love tennis and seeing Alex, associate director of recreation programs for USTA Mid-Atlantic, get so excited when describing the programs made me a bigger fan than ever. KUDOS to Alex and the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section for getting so many kids excited about tennis from all over! 

Since 2016, USTA Mid-Atlantic has been introducing youth to tennis through summer camp and after school tennis programs and is committed to subsidizing the program so that the cost is lower and more children can participate. Generous donations help us bring more tennis programs to children all across the region.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to USTA Mid-Atlantic? 

Amir F.: If you love tennis whether actively participating in it or you have a child playing tennis or just love to watch tennis, think about why you love it so much. You probably fell in love with it watching the amazing athletes who make it look so effortless or taking a friend to a tennis court and hitting some balls or playing in a tournament or for one of so many many other reasons.  

Tennis opens up so many opportunities for so many to become part of a sport that lasts a lifetime. It provides opportunities to meet people from all walks of life who share the same passion for the sport regardless of age, gender or background. Giving to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section opens doors to more people, like yourself, to be a part of the world of tennis and the amazing benefits everyone gets from the sport.  

A donation of any size really does make a difference. Just visit a USTA Mid-Atlantic youth summer camp or watch a USTA League match and you will see why USTA Mid-Atlantic Section makes such a difference in so many lives in a fun and healthy way.

Tell us more about you. How long have you been playing tennis? What do you love most about the sport? Where are you from and what do you enjoy when you aren’t playing tennis?

Amir F.: I started playing tennis in lower school, but by 9th grade I fell in love with the sport. 

I think I got most excited about tennis when we lived in North Carolina and hosted a junior team from Israel. At the time, Israel was just developing their tennis program. The kids participating were all 12 and under. I was hoping to play with some of the 12 year olds and show them a thing or two that I, as a Junior in High School, knew about tennis. Well, I got schooled. These kids were amazing and were the best of the best. I just loved the fact how all the kids interacted and became friends so easily with each other and yet still competed fiercely.

I play tennis every chance I can get. It not only satisfies my need to exercise but there is no better way to let some steam out than hitting a tennis ball. Playing singles gives me the opportunity to decompress. The amazing thing about tennis is I can compartmentalize any work problems or other issues that come up during the day. When I am on the court, it is my time to just enjoy. Playing doubles gives me the opportunity to socialize and have fun!

When not playing tennis… when is that?  I love being with my wife, kids and dogs. My wife loves tennis too, so when we travel we usually bring our racquets.

It is through the love of tennis we can change lives together. You can help us continue to make tennis accessible to all in the Mid-Atlantic Section, and help us deliver more after school and summer camp tennis programs to ALL children in our region. With the year coming to an end, now is the time to make an annual gift. You can give a tax-deductible donation today!


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.