Bringing Tennis to the Community is a Family Affair
Tennis has been an important part of Ashleigh Beasley’s life from as early as she can remember. Growing up, you could always find her on the tennis courts because spreading the love of tennis across the Section is a family tradition.
Ashleigh started playing tennis competitively at 7 years old and has not put down her racquet since. “I love to introduce the sport and provide outlets for anyone interested in becoming involved,” she said.
Her commitment to the sport continues to be noteworthy. In between raising a family and having a full-time job, Ashleigh is growing tennis at the grassroots level. She is a tournament director in the Mid-Atlantic, works with Tennis on Main, and coaches local high school teams in Southwest Virginia.
USTA Mid-Atlantic caught up with Ashleigh to learn more about her love for the game and to discuss her favorite aspects of tennis in the Section.
USTA Mid-Atlantic: Why did you decide to become a tennis provider?
Ashleigh: Tennis has given me so much in life. From all of the life lessons provided on the court, to get to travel to amazing places to compete, to providing jobs, I decided to become a tennis provider to give back to the sport that has given me so much. I want to provide the same opportunities I had to the players of today. I live in an underserved area and want to see opportunities for my community of Southwest Va. to compete in tennis tournaments in a way that is accessible to them, and I also want to give others a chance to visit this area of the county by coming to the tournaments I run!
When did you become a Mid-Atlantic tennis provider, and how do you bring tennis to the community?
I became a Mid-Atlantic tennis provider in 2018. As I said, my family and father’s business has been a provider of tennis over the years, but I officially decided to carry on that involvement just a few years ago. Tennis on Main provides lessons, clinics, etc. in the New River Valley area. I help to coordinate, market, and educate our clientele on how to be involved in tennis on many different levels. My father, Mark, does all of the instruction. My brother and father are USTA and ITA officials. My father and I coach local high school teams (him at Radford High School with the boys & girls programs) and me at Christiansburg High School with the boys & girls programs). My sister, Grace, and I are both tournament directors for Mid-Atlantic. It is a family affair to bring as much tennis as we can to the communities we live in!
How has tennis become an important aspect of your life?
Tennis has always been a part of my life and has always been an important aspect. It has provided a career and living for my father, so growing up, I benefited from having a built-in coach and being able to travel to play, etc. I was able to be on the court to train to earn a college scholarship. Tennis helped to provide an education, a healthy lifestyle, and countless life lessons. Now, I have gotten to experience this all full circle, as my 14-year-old son, Lucas, is navigating junior tennis and has aspirations to play in college.
What is it about tennis specifically that differentiates it from other activities or sports?
Tennis can be such a hard sport to navigate from a parent and player perspective. It can be a lonely sport, but the translation that playing tennis has to life is invaluable. Learning to manage yourself on the court is so parallel to managing life. Also, the healthy lifestyle tennis instills that can span your entire lifetime is incredible.
What has surprised you most about delivering tennis to youth players?
It’s surprising to see how responsible many of the youth tennis players can be. From being proactive about warming up, to making sure their equipment is just as they need it to be, many youth players I see have such a routine and process when they are at tournaments and you typically don’t see those characteristics among that age group!
How do you think we can get more young players into tennis, especially those from under-resourced communities?
This is such an important initiative. Getting racquets in the hands of kids at younger ages in a grassroots-type way is ideal. The sport has to be financially accessible, so working to have community recreation programs or school programs would get the largest number exposed to tennis. It is a community effort where consistency, continually talking about it, and getting the community word-of-mouth talking about it is helpful.
What is your favorite part about being a USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis provider?
My favorite part about being a Mid-Atlantic provider is interacting with the players. Helping to take the edge off a little by engaging in conversation with them - getting to hear their thoughts, asking them their favorite pro player or do they prefer their forehand or backhand, encouraging them from round to round. As a tournament director, we can influence the experience that junior players have, and hearing from them is one of the best ways to do that.
Tennis is more than winning matches, it is the excitement of hitting a new achievement at practice, the camaraderie of a team, and most importantly the sense of accomplishment you feel when you step on the court.
When asked how to describe tennis in the Mid-Atlantic in three words, Ashleigh said, “competitive, exciting, and diverse.” Thank you to Ashleigh and all Mid-Atlantic providers across the Section for spreading the love of tennis to so many players.
As we continue to highlight Mid-Atlantic tennis providers we will be spotlighting those who are on a mission to grow the game for ALL in the Section. You can find those spotlights on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and we encourage you to share and join the conversation.
USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.
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