How Passion Creates Opportunity
March is Women’s History Month and USTA Mid-Atlantic is celebrating by spotlighting the remarkable women that are using tennis to build character, community, and well-being in the Mid-Atlantic.
For this spotlight, we caught up with Toosdhi Jackson. Toosdhi is a 2.5 League Captain who started playing tennis as an over 40 adult. Originally from Prince George, Va, Toosdhi’s love and passion for tennis is palpable. Read how Toosdhi is leading the way in helping more women play tennis as a USTA League Captain.
Tell me about yourself; where did you grow up and where do you live now/what do you do now?
My name is Toosdhi Jackson. I grew up in Prince George, Va and currently live in Chesterfield, Va. I am the Director of Children’s Services for a private non-profit organization.
What teams, leagues, and/or tournaments do you play in?
I play USTA Ladies 18 & Over and 40 & Over doubles, combo leagues, mixed leagues and tri-level. I captain a singles team every summer for any teammates that want to play singles but I stay in my double’s lane.
When did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis in my mid to late 40’s. I was a part of the first adult beginner’s program at my club. I fell in love with the sport, the people, and the clothes. I cannot emphasize how much I love the clothes! I have over 50 outfits – so I will never quit playing!
In what ways has tennis become an important aspect in your life?
I can’t believe that I have finally found something that checks all of the boxes - the physical, social and emotional benefits. I have made lifetime friendships, playing a lifelong sport and I get to wear the most fabulous tennis outfits. Each year as I become more confident, I practice and play more.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while playing in the Mid-Atlantic?
The ongoing joke at my tennis club is that I know everyone. It is important to me that everyone feels involved and included. That’s one of the reasons I became a captain. I wanted to give women who would not normally join a team or women who feel excluded an opportunity to play.
Why is it important to increase access to tennis and other sports for women?
It’s important for women to have access to sports because the skills they acquire playing sports are transferable to many aspects in life. Particularly in tennis women are building skills such as collaborating, planning, problem-solving, and decision making. Additionally, there are so many social and physical benefits of playing tennis. Tennis has a positive impact and outcome on our overall well-being.
How would you like to see Women in sports grow?
I would like for women’s sports to be just as popular and lucrative as men’s sports. It’s important that current gender-based inequities are addressed.
This year is USTA Mid-Atlantic's 100th anniversary, in what ways do you think tennis has evolved in the region over the last 100 years?
I see the USTA Mid-Atlantic’s initiatives for increasing accessibility for all including grants, scholarships, and concerted, targeted outreach. Tennis was once seen as a sport only for a specific community but that is changing. Access for women, people of color, youth, urban and rural areas is evident in the Mid-Atlantic region and it is exciting to experience.
What advice would you like to give to the next generation of women leaders?
Be fearless, fun and fair. Meet people where they are. Put yourself out there, make it okay for your teammates or colleagues to fail…failing is one of the best ways to learn. Take those risks and lead with dignity, humility and confidence. We have so many young ladies looking at us as examples. Let’s be the best examples that we can be in all arenas of our lives.
What would you tell someone interested in getting involved in tennis?
Don’t give up! I see a lot of new people get discouraged. We were all there, so it’s okay. Take clinics and lessons then put yourself out there and PLAY. You won’t regret it.
USTA Mid-Atlantic is committed to helping ensure that tennis is accessible to all. Programs such as Girls Rule the Court and the Junior Player Scholarship, help remove barriers to the sport. With your support, USTA Mid-Atlantic can continue to make an impact in our region. Donate or Volunteer today.
This year USTA Mid-Atlantic, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is celebrating 100 years of promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Get involved and show your support for the next 100 years of tennis. Learn about our impact in the region and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.