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June 10, 2008 01:24 PM

The tough part of managing the grant award process is realizing there is a limited amount of funds available and hundreds of players in need or want of a grant. Two things are certain, you can’t help every child, no matter how much you want, and you can’t award as much as you’d like to the ones who do receive funding.

It is with this in mind that we asked two players from humble beginnings who made it to the Pro Tour without any financial assistance, to pass along their secrets to financing their way to the Pros. These players came through the ranks before a multicultural grant process was established, and before the High Performance coaching staff had the reach and depth that it does today. So we hope the stories of these two athletes will help you and your family finance your road to success.

Zina Garrison: Wimbledon Finalist, 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2004-2006 Fed Cup Captain, and 2004 USA Olympic Tennis Coach.

  • Parents held dinner fundraisers in the community to pay for travel costs.
  • Stayed with family and friends who lived in the area of the local tournaments rather than in hotels.
  • Skipped the fancy restaurants and went to the grocery store and pack a lunch
  • Stayed at the Inns rather than three, four or five star hotels
  • Often traveled with two or three other kids who were also playing, and one trusted parent took the kids on the road. Parents were able to save money, take turns traveling with the kids. (This is in contrast to the whole family traveling with one child)

Katrina Adams: spent 12 years on the WTA Tour and has been ranked as high as #67 in singles and #8 in doubles. Currently, she’s a television commentator for the Tennis Channel, and Executive Director of the Harlem Junior Tennis League.

  • Katrina’s father accompanied her and drove her to all of her Junior tournaments.
  • Like Zina, Kat developed a network of parents in the area who would take turns taking groups of players on the road.
  • Developed a network with other players met on the tournament circuit and stayed with these new contacts whenever tournaments were in their area. (Reciprocity is always appreciated)
  • Reach out to your community and establish relationships with; local tennis clubs, businesses, YMCA’s and Boys & Girls Clubs, etc. for funding and support.
  • Played with a racquet, which her parents bought from Kmart, and took time to develop her skills.

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM ZINA AND KATRINA

  • Use the USTA grants, if any, as a supplement to what you are putting together for yourself.
  • Hospitality of others is an honor, not a right.
  • Remember to thank those in the community and in your network for whatever assistance they extend to you.
  • Do not expect to join the top programs right away. Develop your skills first.
  • Most importantly, be humble and appreciative of everything that comes your way.
 

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