Inside Florida Tennis: Amplifying the Black Community
When USTA Florida launched the Amplify initiative in 2020, the goal was to engage and amplify Black voices throughout the tennis community. In just two years, the program has already gone above and beyond expectations.
It was built on three pillars, the first being Staff Training and Education. This is a key component when it comes to engaging the Black community as it teaches staff about racial equality and how to work toward inclusion of all.
Another pillar of Amplify is executing Coach Development. USTA Florida has been working hard to ensure that there is a diverse pool of coaches in the tennis community. Amplify is building opportunities for Black coaches to display their skills, learn more and network with other professionals in the sport.
USTA Florida has also been working alongside other industry partners to provide Black coaches with more knowledge in management education, tournament director resources, and more.
American Tennis Association (ATA) is one of the organizations that USTA Florida partners with in the Amplify initiative. As a precursor to the 2022 ATA National Championships at the USTA National Campus in July, USTA Florida and ATA partnered to offer an XGLO Tennis Party that was open to all in the community. All ages and all levels were welcome to the event that offered a lively, glow in the dark tennis experience. Over 80 people participated in the sold-out event!
The final key area of the Amplify initiative is Tennis Programming, which aims to offer more events that have a positive impact on the Black community. In June USTA Florida offered facilities a grant to help run Juneteenth events to celebrate the monumental day in history with tennis in their community Gaines Park Tennis Association, Velasco Tennis Training, Sally Wilkey Foundation and MaliVai Washington Youth Tennis Foundation each received an event grant for their Juneteenth tennis celebrations. USTA Florida managed facility, Play Tennis Gainesville also hosted its second annual Juneteenth Slam event in June.
USTA Florida Diversity and Outreach Coordinator Ronald Lyons is amazed to see what Amplify has done for the Black community. “From staff racial equality training, creating new and innovative tennis programming, and building long term partnerships with diverse organizations—I am extremely proud of where we are today.”
Magali Holt, who has been on the Amplify project team since its launch, is blown away when looking back at where the initiative began. “We started Amplify in the midst of the pandemic and we were just talking about doing community programs and events,” Holt said. “So, to actually see those take place with Play Tennis Gainesville, the Juneteenth grants, and partnering with the ATA has been pretty cool.”
Although the Amplify initiative has accomplished a lot, there are more things planned to take this to the next level. Next steps include working with USPTA to expand opportunities for Black coaches in the professional scene, as well as having established professional Black coaches to educate the future of tennis.
“We plan to continue creating more tennis programming in predominantly Black areas while also focusing on our Black coaches. Engaging our Black coaches will continue to be pivotal in our growth because we know they shape every aspect of our tennis ecosystem,” Lyons said. “We know that in the coming months we must continue trying to crack the code of finding more coaches and engaging our existing network of Black coaches because that is where we will make the most impact to target every component of our initiative.”
By working toward these new goals, USTA Florida’s Amplify initiative is set to reach new heights by the end of 2022. For more information visit ustaflorida.com/amplify.