School Tennis Courts get a Refresh Thanks to Safe Place to Play Grant

When the students came back to school this fall at Windsor Knolls Middle School in Ijamsville, Md., they were greeted with refurbished tennis courts. Windsor Knolls Middle School was one of the 2018 USTA Mid-Atlantic Safe Place to Play Grant recipients. This grant program, from USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, is designed to provide funding to projects that build or revitalize tennis courts in local Mid-Atlantic communities as a way to support increasing access to tennis. The grant program requires that each project implement inclusive tennis programs and demonstrate how they’ll use the courts to introduce tennis to more people, especially among youth and the underserved.  USTA Mid-Atlantic allocates funds to support the Safe Places to Play grant program, but also relies on the support of donations to help advance efforts to grow tennis and expand programs such as this one.

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Before the Safe Place to Play grant the courts at Windsor Knolls were overdue for refurbishment.

The Windsor Knolls Middle School courts were long overdue for a face-lift. The school system did not have extra funds for this project so without support of grant funding from USTA Mid-Atlantic, the project would not have been possible. Advanced Academics Specialist at Windsor Knolls, Lori Saylor applied for the grant. Lori is an avid tennis player and coaches the local high school team. She has also started a Net Generation After School tennis group to get more kids from the community into the sport early. 

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Refurbished tennis courts at Windsor Knolls Middle School now are inviting spaces to play.

The project at Windsor Knolls Middle School refurbished existing courts which included patching, painting, lining, painting of the net posts, new nets, and net straps. In addition, the school was able to purchase junior sized racquets, balls and hoppers for the use by the PE classes and the Net Generation After School program. With limited public tennis facilities available in the Frederick County area, the refurbished courts will also serve the community providing a free, public place to play tennis. USTA teams will also have the opportunity to use the courts for local tennis play. 

Lori reports that the newly refreshed courts have been very well-received and that the

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Students enjoy playing tennis on the new  refurbished courts through the Safe Place to Play Grant.

Net Generation After School tennis group is growing in popularity. She expects that the new courts and equipment available will will bring fresh energy to toward the group and for tennis in the community. Her hope is that by introducing middle school students to tennis early there will be more enthusiasm to play throughout high school as well. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is proud to provide the Safe Place to Play grant program in support of tennis infrastructure projects. These projects support the mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis locally in our Mid-Atlantic neighborhoods. You can help support projects like this and help us make more courts inviting, safe places to play. Make a tax-deductible donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic today. 

Apply for a Safe Place to Play Grant 

As a non-profit organization dedicated to both the sport and its players, USTA Mid-Atlantic aims to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region.  We are taking action by supporting the creation of safe, accessible places to play and grow the game. Through the Safe Place to Play Grant, we support projects that refurbish and revitalize local tennis courts in the Mid-Atlantic to create inviting places to play and contribute to creating healthy, active communities. You can learn more about our 2019 Safe Place to Play Grant Guidelines and apply here.


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.

After School Tennis in Title 1 Schools

Belvedere Elementary School* in Fairfax, Va., is a Title 1 school with 660 students in grades K-5 and more than 60 percent of the student body on the free and reduced meal program. Belvedere supports a diverse population representing 29 countries of origin and speaking 31 different languages in the home.

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section was excited to partner with the school and their parent volunteers to bring our after school tennis program to students. As we delivered the new program, our coaches were able to see firsthand the power of tennis in this school.

In its first year, the after school tennis program was so successful with both the fall and spring sessions completely full! The students loved it! Not only that, tennis after school brought the diverse student population together and helped create camaraderie among the students while engaging in a new sport.

We are able to offer the after school tennis program at reduced rates for students and their families because USTA Mid-Atlantic is committed to subsidizing the program so that more children can participate. But we need help to ensure that we can keep doing this.

Your tax-deductible gift of $100.74 covers the cost to provide equipment, a high-quality curriculum, and instruction for one child in the program. USTA Mid-Atlantic provides all of this so participants just need to come ready to play and have fun.

The PTA parent coordinators at Belvedere shared the following feedback about the program:

“We were so thrilled to add USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis to our after school classes this past school year because we really liked the curriculum. We felt like all the children – no matter their background – would be equals through tennis. And that’s just what we saw; playing tennis became the common ground and brought students closer together. They learned sportsmanship and life skills through the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program, all while being active and having fun.”

Belvedere is one of 45 Title 1 elementary schools in Fairfax County. Of those 45 Title 1 schools in Fairfax County, there are only three schools with the USTA Mid-Atlantic after school tennis program. We want to change these numbers for the 2019-2020 school year and need your support to do so.

Increased funding will allow us to provide more after school tennis programs so that other schools like Belvedere can offer their students the opportunity to benefit from the positive impact of tennis both in Fairfax County and across the Mid-Atlantic region.

We cannot do it alone and now, as the school year is just getting underway, your gift can make an immediate difference. Importantly, you can double your gift when you give thanks to an anonymous donor matching all donations up to $10,000 in 2019.

Tennis brings the power of opportunity; The ability to learn a lifelong sport; The benefit of physical and mental learning; The chance to have FUN.  Thank you for your support.


* Fairfax County Public Schools does not specifically endorse nor condemn the solicitation of this blog.

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. 

A Reason Why

We caught up with David K., an active donor to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, and talked to him about his reasons why he supports the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. 

How long have you been playing tennis? What do you love about the sport? 

David K.: I started playing tennis in my teens, then later while I was in the U.S. Air Force in Berlin, Germany.  Following my military service, I attended college and went to work as a defense contractor from which I was deployed to many locations throughout the world.  No matter where you go, no matter what country; no matter the environment, you can always find someone who plays tennis. If you cannot find a court, there is always a wall to practice on. In 2018 I decided to try refereeing. This has proven to be a great way to stay in the game and help our youth, plus the referee has the best seat in the house! You can’t get any closer to good tennis!

Why do you choose to donate to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section? 

David K.: I like to support organizations that I know will put donations to good use and I like to help the youth of today become our leaders for tomorrow. 

Do you feel you are helping make a difference? How? 

David K.: Being a referee in the Mid-Atlantic Section, one has the opportunity to see first hand where the donations go as well as watching our youth compete and improve their skills.

You can show support and directly impact and improve access to tennis for all people in the Mid-Atlantic region by making a tax-deductible donation to the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section. 

Already a donor? What are your reasons why you support USTA Mid-Atlantic? Get in touch and share your “why.” We’d love to feature your story too!

Give Recognition – Nominate Champions of Tennis Today

Every year, USTA Mid-Atlantic recognizes and awards individuals and organizations that are champions in the tennis community. Award season is an exciting time of the year because individuals and organizations are being nominated by peers and others who are working hand-in-hand to fulfill a common goal, which is to bring more tennis to the community.

The accomplishments being made in the community for tennis take time, passion and commitment. Being recognized for this hard work can leave a lasting impression, validate the importance of the work being done, and can inspire others as an example to emulate. That is why it is important to nominate deserving individuals and organizations today!

We turned to last years’ award winners and asked them about the significance of being nominated and awarded a USTA Mid-Atlantic Section award.

When Jill Rene Steele, the Principal of Simpson Elementary School in West Virginia, was asked what it meant to her and her school to be awarded the Outstanding School Partner Award she said, “We were so honored to be chosen, and thrilled to be involved.” Simpson Elementary was a USTA Mid-Atlantic school partner and offered in-school opportunities to students eager to learn tennis in 2018. “Our school has gained increased confidence in realizing we can attain recognition for achievements at a greater level than just locally,” Jill notes further.

Not only are organizations recognized for their achievement in promoting tennis across the region, but individuals are also being celebrated as well.

When Riley King, winner of the Most Valuable Member Award, was asked why it is important for fellow members to nominate deserving individuals for awards he said, “It is nice to show recognition to those who invest in a sport and have a positive influence on others.” He further noted, “I’m never surprised how widespread and far-reaching the tennis community is, and yet it always feels like a “small world” because you are able to make so many connections to different people.” For Riley, being involved in this sport is not just about teaching tennis, it is about building relationships within the community as well.

Another individual who notes the importance of nominating people and organizations for a Mid-Atlantic Section award is Jerry Cifuentes. Jerry won the Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award in 2018 and winning this award continues to be a positive reinforcement in his life. When asked how it felt to be recognized in front of a crowd of people at the Washington Kastles match he said, “The feeling was incredible! It gave me the motivation to continue to do what I love, which is teaching tennis.” Not only did it feel great for Jerry to be awarded this honor, but it gave him the confidence to continue to move forward with his work. “I want to continue to work with those who may not be exposed to tennis, due to cultural, racial, or social boundaries; and I want to put them at the forefront of my coaching,” he said.

All award winners felt honored to be recognized by peers and motivated to continue to bring tennis to more people in the future.

Now it is your turn to leave your mark. If you know a deserving person or group to honor with a USTA Mid-Atlantic Section award, nominate them today and let them know they have made a positive impact for tennis.

USTA Mid-Atlantic will be accepting nominations until July 1 and will present the winners with their awards on July 20 at USTA Family Day at The Washington Kastles. Happy nominating!

If you have any further questions, please reach out to Megan Driscoll at driscoll@mas.usta.com and we will be happy to assist.

Gearing Up for League Tennis: The GEAR (Giveaway)

From that pop and hiss of a fresh can of tennis balls to the feel of a new racquet, to the latest tennis apparel trends, having the gear to get your season of USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues started right is just as essential as it is to making sure you’ve got your rating and registration all taken care of!

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There’s just something alluring to having new tennis gear items in your bag at the start of the season. When your tennis gear is ready, you’re another step closer to fun competition.

We’ve been getting you prepared for the season with our “Gearing Up” series of articles. So far, we’ve covered:

Now, let’s talk a little bit about gear. Any tennis player knows that your basic essentials include a tennis racquet, tennis balls, the proper shoes and attire, and towels or items to keep you dry/cool. A bag is helpful to keep everything organized, too, and don’t forget a water bottle. You may want some additional accessories such as grip tape, vibration dampeners for your strings, and of course if you are playing outside, protection from the sun (hats, visors, sunglasses) and sunscreen.  

And you’ll want to proudly rep the Mid-Atlantic Section this league season, so you’ve got to get some gear in our official “color wars” color for 2019: ROYAL BLUE!

To go a little more in depth, there are excellent articles on USTA.com that have helpful information about tennis gear, from selecting the right racquet, to the importance of the strings in your racquet, to buying the right shoes. Check them out here.

As tennis enthusiasts ourselves, we love new gear just as much as you do! So we want to get you “geared up” and ready to play with a fun GIVEAWAY to kick-off the spring adult tennis league season.

You have a chance to WIN our Gearing Up prize pack that includes tennis strings from @MainandCrosses, 10 grips from @AlienPros, a case of tennis balls, a foam roller, and $100 in  gift cards. To enter, simply leave a comment on this Facebook post telling us “I signed up for my local spring league” and let us know which one. The contest is open now, March 6, 2019 and will run through Friday, March 22, 2019. One winner will be drawn at random at the end of the contest period; good luck!

Read the official rules here.

What tennis gear do you have in your tennis bag? Let us know on Social Media. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and subscribe to the blog.

The 2019 calendar is here for you to see which leagues are registering in your area. Contact the listed Local League Ambassador for your local area or our Tennis Connect service to get playing!