The United States Tennis Association today announced that three National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapters nationwide have been awarded the 2011 USTA/NJTL Chapter of the Year Award. The USTA recognizes chapters and programs at three different budget levels to reward those organizations that are able to do more with less.
Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, founded the NJTL network in 1969. Ashe envisioned NJTL as, "a way to gain and hold the attention of young people in the inner cities and their poor environments so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis." Since then, NJTL has grown to more than 650 chapters across the country, serving more than 250,000 youth each year, making it one of the USTA’s largest community-based offerings.
"I am proud that we are able to recognize these NJTLs for the outstanding commitment they bring to their communities in growing the game of tennis," said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "It’s no wonder youth tennis is thriving in this country with programs such as these. They deserve to be commended."
The 2011 USTA/NJTL Chapters of the Year and their corresponding budget levels are: Central Texas Tennis Association (less than $50k); Mary and Frances Youth Center/Lobs & Lessons ($50k-$350k) and Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center ($350k and over).
A brief look at the three honorees:
Central Texas Tennis Association – The Central Texas Tennis Association (CTTA) was developed to promote and grow the game of tennis in all communities throughout Austin, Tex., as well as to improve academic outcomes, and assist in developing a healthy lifestyle in its participants. Established in 1996, the NJTL program is CTTA’s largest program, teaching its participants sportsmanship, life skills, and tennis skills. While utilizing tennis as a means to reach children from various communities and backgrounds, the CTTA focuses on underserved and disadvantaged populations. The program is led by 12 part-time and four full-time instructors within two six-week sessions, providing an opportunity for children of all ages to enjoy the sport of tennis. In 2011, the CTTA operated at 17 sites with 1,064 participants with more than half of the youth receiving full program scholarships. Of the1,064 participants, 506 were awarded full scholarships through the NJTL program. The CTTA provides not only tennis but also other educational offerings such as a math and reading camp, a science program, and arts and crafts. This year, the program added dance and cooking classes with the help of the local Parks and Recreation department. Through partnerships with other organizations, the CTTA focuses on promoting health, welfare and the well-being of children without prejudice to any group or population. By utilizing tennis and fitness as a means to connecting with the youth in the community, CTTA’s NJTL chapter directly touches hundreds of children and families each year, and is committed to one day servicing every child in Austin that has the desire to play.
Mary and Frances Youth Center/Lobs & Lessons – Established four years ago on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, the Mary and Frances Youth Tennis Center (MFYC) reaches out to underserved elementary and middle school youth across the community by introducing them to tennis, teaching them life skills and exposing them to the merits of higher education. In its after-school programs, MFYC serves 50 youth each day, five days per week. In addition, full-day summer camps are offered for seven weeks and serve up to 40 youth per week. Students in the program participate on and off the court during their time at Lobs & Lessons. Tennis instruction is given in one-on-one and clinic settings, while practice skills are taught using team format play. MFYC strives to reinforce healthy lifestyles through lesson plans that focus on nutrition, self-image and healthy cooking. The participants in MFYC are encouraged to explore their future possibilities formally and informally through guest speakers, with topics ranging from college to careers, and with campus tours with interactive activities from multiple disciplines. Recently, MFYC started a year-long open enrollment program that welcomes any elementary or middle school child who wishes to participate one day a week for 28 weeks.
Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center – Since opening its doors in 2002, the Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center (FWTEC) has kept focused on its mission of empowering youth to be successful on and off the court through tennis and education activities that challenge them academically, physically and socially. With tennis and education as its core programs, FWTEC manages to engage young people outside of the school day by making the programs accessible without regard to cost or transportation. The 2010-2011 school year saw FWTEC’s community volunteers donate more than 2,100 hours of time in teaching and training the program’s participants. The program provides annual full and partial scholarships to 60 percent of the participants. With a coach to student ratio of no more than 1:6, FWTEC fosters strong, positive relationships among participants and the coaches who guide them on a weekly basis. The youth programs create an environment in which kids feel emotionally and physically safe so they can build tennis and life skills. Structured as a public tennis facility, FWTEC is currently at near-capacity for court use and youth program participation.
The programs will be honored at the United States Tennis Association Community Tennis Development Workshop held January 13 - 15, 2012 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, La, the largest annual gathering of grassroots tennis leaders in the United States.