USTA Florida Launches Initiative to Inspire Girls and Women to Work in Tennis
USTA Florida today announced a new, three-phase initiative aimed at improving the representation of women in the tennis industry. The new effort will focus first on highlighting inspiring women in Florida tennis, then shift to improving the number of women speakers at tennis conferences, all while continuing to recruit more women coaches. This work is an expansion of USTA Florida’s Pro-Women initiative, which was created in 2019 through a partnership with the United States Professional Tennis Association to advocate for more women tennis coaches.
“We chose March 8th to announce this expanded initiative because it is International Day of the Women. We chose 2022 to do this work because it is the 50th anniversary of Title IX,” said Dana Andrews, USTA Florida President. “While women have soared to new heights in the world of sports, there is still much room left for growth.”
PHASE 1 – INSPIRE
To celebrate Women’s History Month, USTA Florida is releasing nearly a dozen new feature stories on inspiring women in tennis. These stories will appear in Florida Tennis magazine, on the USTA Florida website and on social media throughout the month of March. As a complement, USTA Florida will host a series of happy hours in March and April with women professionals who have taken different paths in the tennis business.
Aleks Koleva, a tennis professional at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, is one of several women being featured. She says the industry needs more women coaches so that younger generations have women leaders to look up to and follow.
University of North Florida Women’s Tennis Coach, Catherine Dunagan, echoed that sentiment in the latest episode of the Here to Serve Podcast. Dunagan said she would have benefitted greatly from having a women coach in college, and her desire to provide that to young women is what drives her to stay in coaching. She is now working with USTA Florida to host an all-girls tennis camp this summer at UNF – the first of its kind in the state.
PHASE 2 – REPRESENT
In April, USTA Florida will expand the Women in Tennis initiative to promote more women speakers at industry conferences and meetings across the state. The organization will launch a new speakers bureau on USTAFlorida.com to help conference organizers be more proactive with their outreach to women. Any woman who works in tennis or in sports in the State of Florida can be added to the page. Women who need help submitting a speaking proposal, or advice on how to be a better speaker, can be paired with a mentor.
“There are so many great women leaders in Florida tennis. Helping them get in front of conference organizers and on the dais will improve our ability to attract new women to the business. We have to normalize women being seen as experts in all aspects of this business,” said Laura Bowen, USTA Florida Executive Director.
PHASE 3 – RECRUIT
The final phase of the initiative is to continue to partner with USPTA Florida to recruit more women in coaching. The organizations are working now to expand the USTA Florida Community Coach program, which was piloted last fall. The program is for entry-level/new coaches and includes in-person training, online modules, and a mentorship component. Trainings begin in March, with at least two planned for each region of the state through the fall.
“At USTA Florida, we want to encourage more women to get involved in the tennis industry, whether it be as a player, coach, or a leader in another capacity,” said Andrews.
For more information and updates on the Women in Tennis initiative, visit www.USTAFlorida.com/Women-in-Tennis.
For more information on USTA Florida’s Community Coach Program, visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.