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.
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?
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.
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.