Teams flocked to the USTA Military Outreach outpost near center court in Surprise to send best wishes to the U.S. Armed Forces.
© Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA
By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In between matches and striving for their next "W" to advance at the 2013 Tennis On Campus National Championship, the clubs and competing players took a timeout to thank the United States Armed Forces as part of the USTA Military Outreach program. Students wrote letters to military troops that are serving overseas thanking them for their services.
"The USTA Military Outreach program provides recreation opportunities for returning veterans, particularly those veterans returning to life on college campuses," said Glenn Arrington, USTA Tennis On Campus National Manager. "Tennis provides an easy outlet for veterans to integrate back into society. It’s also a great opportunity for our participants to show their support for the troops currently overseas."
The Military Outreach booth was open all day on Championship Saturday. Students lined up to express their gratitude, adding to the program’s impact on more than 100,000 service members and their families.
"What they do for us is so important," said Justin Vea of University of California – Santa Barbara. "I’m sure they go through a lot out there. It’s the least we can do to take the time to show our respect and recognition. It’s more than a job; many of them give their lives for the country."
According to Robin Jones, USTA Military Outreach consultant, the student’s letters will be added to care packages given in the USTA’s Adopt-a-Unit program – benefitting more than 60,000 troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The USTA’s Military Outreach program has impacted troops at the Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, Calif., Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., Fort Campbell in Clarksville, Tenn., the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and more.
"We recently started collaboration with the Armed Forces YMCA," said Jones. "We have also started some pilot programs with Boys & Girls Clubs on military installations, benefitting military children and families."
Tennis On Campus is just one of many organizations that supports USTA Military Outreach. The volunteer effort includes more than 1,100 Community Tennis Associations, NJTL chapters, Tennis Welcome Centers and tennis organizations around the country.
"My grandparents were military veterans from Korea and World War II," said Adam Telatovich, a Baylor University TOC club member. "I know these people are making a big sacrifice and it’s hard to be away from family for that long. Tennis is definitely a great way for troops to get back to civilian life. I have met some of my closest friends through Tennis On Campus."