Partnering with the Community to Grow the Game
Tennis is hot! According to the Physical Activity Council’s Participation (PAC) report, nearly 22 million people hit the tennis courts in 2020 - a 22% increase. On top of that, almost 3 million of those players were new to tennis.
To capitalize on the explosive growth in the sport, USTA established The Grow the Game Grant to assist organizations in delivering quality entry-level tennis programs to new and returning players. Funding was intended to defray the cost of programming and covered expenses such as tennis equipment and coaches. USTA set aside a total of $3 million for the 17 sections to distribute within their regions.
As a nonprofit organization, USTA Mid-Atlantic Section embraced the opportunity to support the tennis community in the region and make a measurable impact on local tennis growth. A top priority for the Section is to improve access to tennis and support community providers, facilities and coaches that directly deliver the sport. Grow the Game Grants fit within the Section’s already established grant and scholarship programs which are in part supported through generous gifts from the community.
Through Grow the Game, 13,378 new or returning players found their place on a tennis court in the Mid-Atlantic Section in the last six months. All $132,000 of funding was distributed to 62 organizations in a wide variety of areas of the Section, empowering them to grow tennis and help more people gain the powerful benefits the sport provides.
On top of the grant funding awarded, USTA Mid-Atlantic arranged and offered a Bonus Incentive program to all the Grow the Game grantees. This program utilized Mid-Atlantic partners such as HarTru and Diadem, which provided additional aid and support through an opt-in program. 37% of the grant recipients took advantage of the bonus incentive giving them a greater pool of resources for their work.
The impact of the Grow the Game Grant cannot be overstated. Not only were thousands of players introduced to the benefits of tennis, but the providers also received much needed support to expand opportunities for new players.
One of those organizations was Special Olympics Maryland in Baltimore, which offered tennis programming for children as young as 8 through adults in their 60’s.
According to Jeff Abel, Vice President, Local Program Development, several of their programs were free to the community. He states that they had many new participants and The Grow the Game Grant allowed the organization to secure additional facilities and equipment needed to support a larger program.
Abel shared his appreciation for the support of USTA Mid-Atlantic. “As we work to build interactive and inclusive communities of dignity and respect through sport, we truly value our partnership.”
In a region as diverse as the Mid-Atlantic, the grant funding had an impact in smaller communities as well. One such example is the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center in Williamsburg, Va.
As part of the College of William and Mary, the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center’s mission includes fostering a positive, lifelong love of tennis in the community.
Director Mike Caboy said that the Grow the Game Grant provided the necessary funds to purchase supplies and equipment for the center so that they could offer a mix of adult and junior programming. Caboy states that they had 162 participants in their offerings and that they are “grateful and thankful for the support of the USTA to help them grow the game in the Williamsburg community.”
Supporting tennis providers in building communities through tennis is part of the core of the USTA Mid-Atlantic. The Grow the Game Grant not only helped individuals grow their love of the game, but it also helped grow the community of providers in the region.
USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.