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.

Dream Season for 2.5 Team of Beginners

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success

Lifting the gate latch, Kristy walked onto the tennis court in Richmond, Va., for her very first USTA Mid-Atlantic League match. Never in her 40 years would she have expected to have arrived here. Her heart pounded with every step she took as she walked over to greet her doubles partner and opponents. She was so nervous and unsure what to expect. She had put the work in but did not know if it would pay off on her newly forged path as a 2.5 beginner league player. 

Kristy gave tennis a try because her young son decided he wanted to play and began learning the sport. 

“My 5-year-old son decided he wanted to try tennis and ended up loving it,” Kristy said.  “Seeing him enjoy the sport made me think it would be something fun for us to do together as he gets older.” 

Well-being thanks to tennis was a key to success on the court for this 2.5 team

She too began introductory lessons and made pretty good progress in her beginner’s group.  Soon after, Kristy was asked to join a 2.5 USTA League team in 2020. All of the women on the team were in the same boat, starting and learning the sport in their late 30s just like Kristy, and never playing in USTA League before. 

“I don’t know of any other sport that you can pick up later in life and pretty much play until you are well into your senior years. I truly feel like anyone can pick up a racquet and learn to play,” shared Kristy. 

The team was composed of people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, scientists, business owners, stay-at-home moms, all coming together and being put to the test during that fateful first USTA Mid-Atlantic League tennis match. 

Kristy won it decisively 6-1, 6-2 and remembers thinking to herself, “maybe I’ve got the hang of this now!” Her teammates thought similar thoughts having taken all three lines that day. 

But the dream season would have to wait – the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans and the season was cut short. 

“During the COVID shutdown, the outdoor courts at my club remained open and it seemed to be the one thing from ‘normal life’ I was able to keep doing,” expressed Kristy.

Tennis was becoming so much more of an important aspect of life for her than she could have imagined when she started her league tennis journey just a year prior. The well-being benefits of the sport emerged front and center, including social and emotional benefits. 

“As much as I love tennis, the social element has been one of my favorite benefits,” says Seredni. “Playing tennis, I have met so many exceptional ladies who I am now lucky to call friends. Tennis has been the thing when you are having a rough day or week, you can always look forward to… I honestly can’t imagine my life now without tennis.”

Even though the 2020 season was short, Kristy and her team had 2021 in sight. 

Kristy commented, “we really started off as a group of strangers who very quickly became a tight-knit group of competitors. We were all so driven and excited and couldn’t wait to see what we could do. Our chemistry on the courts was off the charts and when we were off the courts we were celebrating births of babies, pregnancies, job promotions, really just supporting each other in life which I think was a huge part of why we were so successful.” 

Tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section brought them together and delivered on well-being benefits and connections on a deeper, social and emotional level.  

Well-being was key to tennis success for this 2.5 USTA Mid-Atlantic league team.

“Something just clicked,” Kristy recounted. “We all seemingly hit our stride at the same time going the entire 2021 League season never dropping a line.” 

This remarkable outcome for the FIRST full season of tennis for the team paved the way for a trip to USTA Mid-Atlantic Sectionals and all the way to the Championship match!  

Kristy’s team was crowned 2.5 Finalists in Mid-Atlantic for the Adult 18 & Over (.5) in 2021. A dream accomplishment many seasoned teams aspire to achieve. 

Thanks to USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis creating a deeper well-being in Kirsty and in her teammates’ lives, they succeeded more than they could have imagined. 

“This past year, really throwing myself into USTA tennis, has been so incredibly rewarding.  From success on the court to meeting new people and making new friends, I have really enjoyed every minute on the courts…Whether you are looking to play for fun or looking for a competitive league, I promise you there is a league for you. And for people thinking about donating, do it!  Watching juniors learn the sport and love playing it is so much fun!  There are so many things for these kids to learn on a tennis court that will translate to life skills.” 

No matter when you start or your level of experience with the game, you can gain the well-being benefits tennis provides. And with YOUR help we can make sure more people, especially those without access to tennis, experience the incredible benefits of the sport through a variety of tennis programs and services from the USTA Mid-Atlantic. 

Make a tax-deductible gift today to support tennis programs in the Mid-Atlantic region that create community, character, and well-being for all. 

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.

Plan for a Brighter Future of Tennis

So more players across the region have the opportunity to love the sport as much as you. 

What is your favorite part about playing tennis? 

This question is not as simple as it sounds. One may answer with “how much time do you have” because if someone gets you started on tennis they may need to cancel their afternoon plans. 

Tennis creates well-being, help grow tennis in the Mid-Atlantic today!

One thing that we can all agree on is that there are many reasons we get out on the court. Tennis is a lifetime sport that unlocks many benefits for you physically, socially and emotionally. Playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic enables you to create friendships that will last a lifetime, gets you physically fit, and can help reduce stress

Your love for tennis is everlasting. Now you have a chance to leave an everlasting impact and plan for a future of tennis for others to enjoy and love the sport long after you are gone. You can help continue to spread the love of tennis and make the sport accessible for all by showing your support to USTA Mid-Atlantic through planned giving and other gift arrangements.

Plus, now is a great time to plan for and prepare to leave your impact on Mid-Atlantic tennis because it is Estate Planning Week.

Every year, Estate Planning Week is celebrated as a way to promote financial wellness among all communities. The purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain the financial security of individuals throughout their lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets to intended individuals or organizations. 

During Estate Planning Week you can review your current plans to ensure they are aligned and reflect any updates you want to make, including ways to give back to tennis through USTA Mid-Atlantic. If you haven’t started planning, this is a week you can take steps to move forward in that work and get your estate plans established. Wherever you are in the process of Estate Planning, there are ways you can leave a legacy for tennis and show your support for the sport you love through: 

  • Planned Gifts: By including USTA Mid-Atlantic in your estate plans, you can continue to have an impact on our tennis community and leave a legacy of tennis for all to enjoy. Bequests are one of the simplest and most popular methods of gift planning.
  • Donor-Advised Fund (DAF): A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a charitable giving vehicle administered by a qualified public charity. Think of it as a philanthropic savings account. When you are ready, you can then recommend a grant to USTA Mid-Atlantic.
  • Gift of Stocks or Securities: Gifts of appreciated securities benefit USTA Mid-Atlantic while providing you with tangible tax benefits. Please consult your financial, tax, or legal advisor for more information.

Now that you have planned for a future of tennis, there are other ways to make an immediate impact beyond the net:

Help Grow Tennis in the Mid-Atlantic, give to tennis today.
  • Donate: Make a one-time gift or join THE SERVE SQUAD, with a recurring monthly donation online. Visit www.ustamasblog.com/donate for more information and ways to make your unrestricted gift to improve the region’s access to tennis’ unique health and social outcomes.
  • Make a tribute gift: You can make a donation in honor of someone whose love for tennis reached far beyond the court. Honor them by supporting the growth of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic so it can leave an equally powerful impact on the next generation of players. 
  • Match Your Gift: Employee matching gift programs are a great way to double or even triple your contribution to USTA Mid-Atlantic! Check with your human resources department to see if your employer has a matching gift program or use our Matching Gift Finder Tool.
  • Join the Creators Circle: Members of the Creators Circle are dedicated donors who provide gifts of $1,000 or more per year. These individuals receive personalized updates on the impact of their giving and invitations to engage in our virtual and in-person events.

Looking to get your company involved in supporting USTA Mid-Atlantic too?

Learn how to become a Net Positive Community Partner by contacting Catie Dugan Vargas, associate director of development at USTA Mid-Atlantic. Partners receive year-round virtual benefits and personalized assistance from our staff to meet their philanthropic goals.

As you can see, there are many ways to plan for a future of tennis and give back to USTA Mid-Atlantic and advance the sport you know and love. Give future generations of players the opportunity to experience their own love of tennis and ensure the sport can provide lasting benefits for years to come. Show your support today or by planning for the future. Together we can make tennis available for ALL. 

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.

Summer Tennis Camp

Summer Full of Tennis Thanks to Scholarships

In partnership with adidas tennis camps

Andrea Vargas playing tennis at adidas summer camp

“What did you do over the summer?” 

As classrooms and school hallways fill with students excited to be returning to school, many children will ask this question. Some will describe memorable trips or time spent with family and friends. Some will share about summer camps and new experiences or adventures. 

For Andrea Vargas, a youth tennis player from Washington, D.C. she’ll be answering the question with, “I went to tennis summer camp!” Andrea received the USTA Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship to attend a week of the adidas tennis camp at the Madeira School in McLean, Va.  

The Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship program gives young athletes the opportunity to attend a summer tennis camp free of charge.

This scholarship program is made possible by the USTA Mid-Atlantic and organizations that donate camp sessions, such as the adidas tennis camp.

“Having the experience to come and enjoy my time at this summer camp was… FANTASTIC,” Andrea said. “I had the luxury to meet friends that I wouldn’t have met [before], and played amazing tennis with my friends, all thanks to this awesome camp!”

The adidas summer tennis camp is designed to give players the chance to uplevel their tennis. With the help of instruction from top coaches, players have the chance to play in exhibition matches with other athletes and access skillful drills. This camp enables athletes to become better tennis players in a fun, positive, and inclusive atmosphere. 

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we are proud to give players the opportunity to continue to work on their tennis skills, build their community of tennis friends and grow through the character-building elements of the sport through scholarships that make experiences such as summer camp accessible.  

“This scholarship has impacted my tennis in so many ways. I learned things I wouldn’t have learned in another academy,” Andrea said when reflecting on how the USTA Mid-Atlantic Summer Camp Scholarship helped her tennis improve. 

Andrea Vargas playing tennis at the adidas summer camp

“Additionally, I had the opportunity to get some quality match play against a very good player and, of course, had fun while enjoying the sport I love the most!”

USTA Mid-Atlantic creates character. It is part of our mission to create opportunities for character building through the sport of tennis for all people. With the help of programs like the adidas summer camp, it increases access to character building benefits so ALL players have the chance to achieve the lifelong enjoyment of the sport.

To stay up to date on additional scholarship opportunities from USTA Mid-Atlantic, click here. And to learn more about the impact tennis is making in the Mid-Atlantic, explore additional resources here

USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn how you can support our vital work and programs such as our summer camp scholarships and more.

Summer Guide to Tennis

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Tennis

In the Mid-Atlantic

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, you can tell summer is right around the corner. The weather is heating up and that means the tennis courts are getting busier than ever. We know you’re lacing up your sneakers and popping open a fresh can of tennis balls to get to the action this summer, but first, we want to ensure you are prepared for the conditions. Tennis is tough enough without the sun beating down on you during your match, so we’ve got some tips and tricks on how to properly prepare to beat the heat and make the most of your tennis experience with the ultimate summer guide to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic.

Hydration is Number One:

Staying hydrated is going to be a major factor in your performance and health this summer. If you’re going to be playing out in the heat, make sure to start drinking water at least 24 hours before your match for peak hydration and to stay cool during your match. We recommend you to bring at least a quart (32 ounces), if not more, to your match to make sure you don’t lose your edge. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis - player returning a forhand

Don’t forget to replenish those electrolytes after those grueling games… Drinking during the changeover is also crucial to prevent getting sick or cramping. We recommend bringing Gatorade, Pedialyte, or something similar during a match because these drinks offer the perfect balance of sugar, sodium, and electrolytes. Another helpful summer guide to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic is to be prepared with snacks! Make sure you have enough fuel to keep your body healthy during those long matches under the hot, hot sun. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis Insider Tip:

  • Pack your tennis bag the night before, this way you can rest easy knowing that you are prepared with water, Gatorade, and yummy, healthy snacks for your important match the next day. Plus when you prepare the night before there’s no additional stress or rushing around before your match!

Clothing and Apparel to Wear in the Heat 

What you wear can be just as important as what you put in your body. When playing in the heat, you need to make sure you stay dry and cool with light-weight, moisture-wicking fabrics. Additionally, consider wearing wristbands to keep your hands and racquet dry from sweat, allowing your grip to stay firm. Finally, wear during your match is a hat or visor to keep the sun out of your eyes and keep your head and face cool. Keeping the sun out of your face helps you keep your head in the match. 

If you’re interested in what local tennis shops in the Mid-Atlantic specialize in for types of tennis equipment and apparel, make sure to check out our blog on preparing for the season in fresh new gear. Take it from the experts who specialize in making sure you get out and play with the right equipment. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Summer Guide to Tennis Insider Tip:

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen when you are getting ready for your match! Make sure to apply sunscreen generously and often before and after your matches to keep from burning. 

Tennis Events to Get Excited about When You’re Not Playing

Summer 2021 tennis events are back and we are so excited to celebrate tennis with you. As you are planning your summer vacation or weekend getaways, make sure you take note of the high-level events that are taking place in the Mid-Atlantic. There are some great professional and recreational events taking place right in your backyard. 

Citi Open (July 31- August 8) – Secure your tickets today! The tournament is operating at 50% capacity this year, so make sure to act quick. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic League Championships 

  • Goucher College (July 30- August 2)
  • Columbia Association (July 23-26) , (August 20-23)
  • More dates are being added, so make sure to bookmark this link and check back in. 

Don’t forget youth tennis this summer

  • There are plenty of opportunities for Juniors to be a part of team events here in the Mid-Atlantic. We encourage your junior player to sign up for a Team Up event. With this event, junior players have fun while playing competitively on a team. Plus, juniors can nab a free USTA membership now. So grab that deal to kick off their summer of tennis right! 

How to Get Involved:

There are so many ways for you to get out and play this summer in the Mid-Atlantic region. If you are looking to uplevel your tennis game and satisfy that competitive edge, we highly recommend you participating in USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues. Here you will be able to play on a team for a chance at a National championship. Now if that doesn’t sound like the best summer ever, we don’t know what does.

Plus, make sure to stay connected with USTA Mid-Atlantic on social media and follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the tennis conversation and engage with other players in the area.

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USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.

By Patrick Twomey: an intern with USTA Mid-Atlantic. Patrick is an upcoming sophomore at the University of Tennessee