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.

Tennis Grants Improve the Community

It Doesn’t Take Long to Feel the Benefits

“Fun, friendly, cool.” These are the three words 11-year-old Deoz uses to describe tennis – a sport he recently came to fall in love with. After playing lots of other sports, Deoz discovered tennis on his own. He decided to try tennis after school because – in his words – it was just fun. 

“When I first started [tennis], I liked it right away,” said Deoz. “I had to run a lot and that was fun. And the drills and exercises came quickly to me.” 

It doesn't take long to feel the benefits of tennis

When his mom noticed how much Deoz was interested in the sport she decided to get more information about it so that she could help him keep pursuing his interest. It was a fateful conversation at the hair salon that gave her all the information she needed. Another patron told her about the different opportunities available for youth tennis and about local tennis programs offered by the Park and Recreation Department near where they lived in Prince George’s County, Md. She and Deoz decided to check the programs out. 

“I was just wowed by the programs,” said Deoz’s mom. “I had never seen tennis programs to the level they were being offered – camps, individual coaching, team tennis. It was overwhelming at first but then the coach really helped to make it easy to get Deoz going.” 

Soon after a few introductory lessons, Deoz’s tennis skills were progressing and he was able to start playing with other kids, getting more competitive and comfortable. Not only that, Deoz and his mom were impressed by the community surrounding tennis, noticeable by the variety of ages and people that play, courts always in use, and caring people and coaches that paid as much attention to what was happening off the court in Deoz’s life as what was happening on the court. 

They also started to notice the many character-building skills and benefits developing within. 

“I had to do a lot of running drills and that was fun because it got my speed up to race with my friends,” Deoz shared. “Tennis also helped with my focus – you have to focus and know what you are doing in the game. It helped with school and other activities.” 

But the most important lessons he was learning on the court were life-lessons he fully embraced off the court. 

“The biggest lesson I am learning from tennis is to always be fair. You learn to call the ball in or out and that being fair is most important, even in close matches,” he shared. 

As the character-building benefits from tennis just started to shine for Deoz, the unimaginable happened. A pandemic and job loss for Deoz’s mom. She didn’t want this temporary situation to be a concern and impact his ability to continue to play tennis. Deoz’s tennis coach offered a suggestion – apply for a USTA Mid-Atlantic Junior Player Scholarship. 

“It was easy to apply for the scholarship and it was so helpful,” she commented. “I wanted to make sure that I could keep Deoz in tennis and that he had something to do.” 

Thanks to generous gifts from the USTA Mid-Atlantic community, scholarships for youth players at any level of the game – even those new to the sport like Deoz – are available. Scholarships help with the cost to take lessons and help nurture the benefits the sport provides. Deoz used the scholarship to keep up with tennis and continue in the classes he was taking and now is shaping his character and future in the sport as well. 

When asked what he would say to those that donate to USTA Mid-Atlantic and support programs such as the Junior Player Scholarship he said: 

“THANK YOU for giving to kids in need. There are a lot of kids in need of scholarships, just like me, that your donations help. Donating helps kids learn tennis, and also learn leadership skills, strategies in thinking, building confidence, and overall development.”

And when asked what he would tell other kids like him about tennis and trying the sport: 

“Definitely try it out! If you are interested, tell someone that tennis is something you want to do – you never know where it will take you until you try it!” 

Can you give a gift to support young players and those children interested in tennis, just like Deoz? Your gift can help children discover something new and gain the character-building benefits only tennis can provide.

Give a gift before the end of the year or join the Serve Squad and make an automatic monthly donation. We need 50 people to join the Serve Squad before the end of 2021. If you step up to the challenge and join, you’ll also be entered into a random drawing for a one-year subscription to TopCourt! 

Give a gift or join the Serve Squad today!  

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.

Play Tennis for your Well-being

Tennis Creates Well-Being

For both your physical and mental health

Putting an emphasis on self-care, in any form, has been a priority for most during the COVID-19 pandemic. But have you thought about fortifying your mental health lately? An easy and fun way to prioritize your mental health is by picking up a tennis racquet. Tennis unlocks many benefits for you physically, socially, and emotionally. With a racquet in your hand, you can gain more self-confidence, while reducing stress.

Now you may be thinking, how do tennis and mental health go hand in hand? Well, you’d be surprised to know that tennis is one of the leading sports that benefit your mental well-being.

Tennis creates well-being, get out and play tennis today.

“Since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and this promotes a lifetime of continuing development of the brain,” according to scientists at the University of Illinois. In turn, advancing your brain function helps reduce stress which supports your mental health.  

The mental and social challenges involved with tennis can increase your capacity to deal with stress.1 The best part is, there is no time limit on when you can take advantage of the psychological benefits the sport has to offer. Whether you are a brand new player or someone who used to play tennis and is ready a get back out on the court, tennis creates well-being at any stage

Tennis helps strengthen your mental health by2:

  • Developing a work ethic: Improvement through lessons or practice reinforces the value of hard work. 
  • Managing mistakes: Learning to play within your abilities and realizing that managing and minimizing mistakes in tennis or life is critical. 
  • Managing adversity: Playing tennis enables you to learn to adjust to the elements (e.g. weather, a hard match, tiredness) and still be able to compete tenaciously. 
  • Learning to solve problems: Since tennis is a sport based on angles, geometry, and physics you learn to anticipate certain scenarios in order to play out a point during a match.
  • Accommodating stress effectively: The physical, mental, and emotional stress of tennis will force you to increase your capacity for dealing with stress. It will also help you learn how to recover from a stressful situation. 

We can’t forget about the social benefits tennis has to offer. Tennis will help you3:

  • Develop performance rituals before serving or returning to control your rhythm of play and deal with pressure. These skills can transfer to taking exams, conducting a meeting, or making an important sales presentation. 
  • Learn sportsmanship since tennis teaches you to compete fairly with opponents. 
  • Learn to win graciously and lose with honor. Gloating after a win or making excuses after a loss doesn’t work in tennis or in life. 
  • Learn teamwork since successful doubles play depends on you and your partner’s ability to communicate and play as a cohesive unit. 
  • Develop social skills through interaction and communication before a match, while changing sides of the court and after play. 

And most important, when you play tennis you will have FUN… because healthy feelings of enjoyment, competitiveness, and physical challenge are inherent in the sport.

Junior Playing tennis

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe tennis creates well-being. Playing tennis an hour a day may improve your physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Get out and play today so you can maximize those benefits on and off the court. During Mental Health Awareness Month, inspire yourself and others to make tennis a part of your mental health journey. 

Let’s strengthen our mental health together. Meet us out on the tennis court to take advantage of the lifelong benefits the sport has to offer. To access more resources from USTA and to participate in webinars on Physical Wellness and Enhancing Your Child’s Well Being Through Competition, click here.

And don’t forget to catch up on the endless physical health benefits tennis has to offer by reading our Improve Your Overall Health with Tennis article

We can’t wait to see you out on the courts!

______________________________________

1USTA.com, Tennis Makes You Happy and Healthy, Study Shows, 2019

2Health Benefits of Tennis: Why Play Tennis by Dr. Jack Groppel

334 Reasons to Play Tennis, Webinar Series with Dr. Jack Groppel

Tennis is a Game Changer

Tennis and Nutrition, Together like Racquet in Hand

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with USTA Mid-Atlantic By Maintaining Proper Nutrition on the Tennis Court

Nutrition tips to keep performing on the tennis court.

No matter your level of play, tennis is a great way to get physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you hit the court and play, you’ll burn calories, strengthen muscles, improve your coordination, and much more. Your time on the tennis court can contribute to your wellness goals; just as it contributes to your goals to improve your tennis game and skills. Critical to reaching your health and physical activity goals is having proper nutrition to fuel your body. Paying attention to your nutrition can support all of the gains you are making on the tennis court. Plus, it can be a differentiator when it comes to your performance. 

March is National Nutrition Month®, spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During March, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. 

Corey Kuck helps teach you how to maintain proper tennis nutrition.

Making informed food choices is an important part of cultivating nutrition habits that will support your tennis game. There are a wealth of resources for tennis players interested in stepping up their nutrition game and making sound choices. Whether that is nutritious foods to fuel your tennis workouts to the best choices for the recovery. 

We’ve gathered up some resources you can review to learn more about making informed choices in your nutrition. 

Fueling Your Body for Tennis with Mid-Atlantic-based chef, Corey KuckThis article has some good tips from Chef Kuck, a recreational tennis player, and includes an awesome recipe for Herb Pesto crusted Pork Tenderloin with Mediterranean Couscous.

If you haven’t yet explored the “Improve” section of usta.com there are many great articles that can help you, well, improve in tennis! The site has several articles dedicated to nutrition specifically for tennis players of all experience levels. No matter your level, proper nutrition is key. 

Here are just a few of the articles that you may find helpful: 

  • Snack Smarter: Tips for Before and After Exercise – This article is jam-packed with great, easy, healthy options for snacks that can power your tennis workout, practice, or match. 
  • Nutrition at Home– Check this article for some thoughtful reminders and hints for making your nutrition count throughout the day. Especially if you are home more or working from home.
  • Nutrition for Recovery – After a long tennis match or tournament, what you put into your body matters. Check this article for foods and tips to help with recovery. 
  • Hydration Matters – It cannot be said enough how important hydration is for your body especially during warmer days or even down-right blazing hot and humid days playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region. This article can help you learn more about proper hydration for your body. 

These are just a few articles and resources that can help you maintain nutrition on the tennis court. As part of your celebration of National Nutrition Month®, take a few moments to review some of these articles and tips on nutrition. Plus, share them with your teammates and tennis friends as you prepare to play more tennis during spring and summer. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has lots of ways you can get into tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and eastern and southern West Virginia. Visit us and learn about the ways you can play today!  And make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube